SSA’s Statement on Accusations Regarding David Silverman
As executive director of the Secular Student Alliance, I am shocked and angry to hear about the accusations of sexual assault by David Silverman against a member of the Secular Student Alliance in 2012 and other women.
The staff and members of the Board of Directors of the Secular Student Alliance fully support the courageous and brave women and men who have come forward to tell their own stories and support and share witness to those who have been deeply affected.
SSA will not tolerate harassment or assault of any form, including conduct of a sexual or improper nature. I and the Secular Student Alliance are committed to creating an environment free from all forms of coercion and harassment that adversely affect the lives of anyone in our community. This commitment includes the prevention and, where it occurs, the punishment of sexual harassment, as well as harassment on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
Our policy on sexual harassment is clear and explicit; sexual harassment or misconduct in any form is unacceptable, and it will not be tolerated within the organization and at our meetings, events and conferences. Further, the Secular Student Alliance prohibits retaliation against any individual who makes a good-faith complaint of sexual harassment or who participates in a sexual harassment investigation.
We will be committed to educational efforts to address the issue of sexual harassment on campus and in our community. Eradicating sexual harassment and fostering a respectful environment requires a continuing commitment from all members of the community.
I will be personally reaching out to those who have come forward with accounts of harassment. In that regard, I express my deepest apology to any student or member of the larger SSA community who has ever been a victim of sexual harassment or assault.
The Secular Student Alliance is dedicated to providing a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of race, color, national origin, age, creed, worldview, disability, veteran status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
Despite how much I want to be able to, I cannot change what happened in the past. While I have only been with the organization for nearly a year, one of my top priorities will be to create an environment where our students are protected and free from harassment or assault of any form. If you have questions about SSA’s policy on harassment, please feel free to contact me directly.
Secular Student Alliance
Nice statement. But the bigger question is, if David Silverman still welcome to attend SSA events and conferences?
No. In fact, we have already emailed some of the leadership of secular organizations and stated that specific individuals are not welcome at SSA events or conferences.
Thank you for taking these matters seriously and taking action quickly to expose any alleged abuse. That being said, as im sure many are, i am very torn on these potentially horrendous and career ending accusations. To be clear i am in no way questioning the legitimacy of the claims. There are however, many serious and pertinent questions that are either not being asked or not being reported. The financial issue so far as i can tell, is a federal matter. The assault unless my understanding betrays me, should originate with local authorities. To read that american atheists is conducting an investigation is almost laughable. Heres the bottom line for me, if the allegations turn out to be true, he should go to jail. This thing being shelled in his firing should in my mind be almost a secondary result. Its just a little too convenient to have clergy members throwing parties and celebrations, while atheists across the world are forced to sit and watch as not only their public heros are being taken out like ducks on a lake, but are also forced to ponder the hypocricy as armies of child molesting preachers attend parties celebrating the accusations made against prominent atheists. As i stated, i thank you for taking a hard line on the matter. I just dont know if its YOUR responsibility to be exposing people to, once again, career ending allegations.
Thank you for your comments.
Just to be clear, we didn’t expose the alleged financial misappropriation or make accusations or allegations regarding sexual assault or rape. Legal matters moving forward are the prerogative of American Atheists and the people who were assaulted.
We didn’t end anyone’s career. The people who broken laws, sexual assaulted, and/or raped are the ones who ended their own careers through their own actions. We do believe in holding people accountable for their actions and not blaming the victims or survivors. The people who are speaking up or holding someone accountable are the ones doing the correct thing.
Some of our students were the victims and survivors. I have talked with them and believe their stories. We are making sure we do everything we can to protect our students.
I think it is fair to say we all agree the catholic church was horribly wrong in the way it handled its sexual scandals. Because they were wrong, doesn’t mean the secular community should not hold people accountable for their own actions. I think we should expect our public heroes and prominent atheists to uphold a high level of ethics and morals.