Courtesy of Sammy Sussman.

Position(s): Focal Point Editor, Daily Arts Writer (Community Culture Columnist), Daily Staff Reporter

Section(s): Arts, News

Semesters at The Daily: 9

There are so many people I should thank for my time on The Michigan Daily. From my first editors on Community Culture to the current Focal Point investigative team that inspires and challenges me as they pursue incredibly powerful articles about yet-to-be-published subjects, I’m so grateful for all the writers, reporters, editors and thinkers that I’ve worked with over my five years in the newsroom. 

I’m particularly grateful for Allie (I think you count as an Arts person? Presumably that’s how we initially met); Zayna (no one else I’d rather edit with until 4 a.m. after attending the world’s scariest cafe meeting); Sadhana and Casey, (again, I think you all count as Daily people?); Arya, Izzy and Trina (go CC!); Sam (Sammy S.), Ethan, Nina (go investigative collaborations!); and the four EICs who were forced to contend with the legal risks and ethical questions that important reporting almost always provoke. (Lizzy and Zayna, so much fun watching “The Bachelor” with you last year — obviously it was this research that led me to write the musical!)

However, if there’s anyone that I really need to thank, it has to be the sources we referred to as “Meghan,” “Jessica,” “Anne,” Wendy Olson Posner, the “Ann-Arbor based freelance musician,” the “former staff member” and the “current faculty member.” I’m so honored that you trusted me with your stories. I’m so honored that you trusted me to reach out to your friends, colleagues and family, and I’m ever-so grateful to the eight friends, family and colleagues who were willing to be included as corroborating witnesses in my reporting. I’m awed by your bravery when I contacted you as part of that initial article — I’m constantly awed by the bravery of the many additional survivors who have spoken out about this specific individual’s alleged harassment and abuse.

A few weeks ago, I attended a plea hearing to watch the criminal justice system hold the subject of this reporting responsible for at least one act of alleged sexual abuse. Without your bravery in sharing your stories with The Daily, I doubt that this would ever have happened. Without your willingness to confront the social media storm that you knew would engulf this reporting, I doubt that anything would ever have changed.

Besides this professor’s retirement, his guilty plea and his presence in the sex offender registry — after nearly forty decades of alleged abuse, you’ve guaranteed that he will never teach young children again — your bravery led the School of Music, Theatre and Dance to spend millions of dollars installing glass panels in almost every door. Your bravery provoked conversations around the culture of classical music and academia that continue to this day. 

The Daily’s subsequent investigative reporting — a pattern of allegations against an employee at Sava’s, an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against a computer science professor that diverged from an outside research organization’s decision to ban him for five years, a pattern of over $1.265 million in confidential non-disparagement agreements over a six-month period that continue to prevent former U-M employees from speaking out about their experiences — was only possible because of your bravery. On a personal level, my decision to pursue investigative reporting will always stem from your incredible bravery in the fall of 2018.

For this and for so many other reasons, both from me, from my SMTD professors and colleagues, from the former students that shared your experiences and from the future students that might have been forced to share your experiences, thank you. Though our readers will never know your identities, they will always be familiar with your effect on our school.