On April 6, rapist professor Robert Reece sent an email to his “Intro to the Study of Society” class announcing that the next week of classes would be cancelled. Then, at the next scheduled class date on April 17, a new course instructor appeared and informed the class that Reece would not be finishing the semester, giving no reason for his absence. The students were not informed of any investigation into the allegations of rape and abuse against him, nor were they told he was unavailable for personal reasons. Given the timing, it seems only reasonable to assume that Reece’s sudden withdrawal has been a direct result of the courageous acts of the women who have named him as a rapist, our subsequent campaign against him, and our broader campaign against assault, abuse, and misogyny at UT.
On March 26, shortly after his ex outed him as an abuser on social media, we began a campaign to raise students’ awareness of Reece’s crimes and begin to ramp up public pressure on him, following the same path we recently took in the campaign against now-deceased serial abuser Professor Richard Morrisett. Before the allegations of rape and abuse against him surfaced, Reece saw the campaign against his colleague Morrisett taken up. Morrisett was subjected to posters strewn across campus depicting his mugshot, crimes, phone number, and home address. These postings were followed several acts of propaganda actions naming him and warning him to leave campus as well as a protest outside of the building he worked at. This campaign crescendoed when anonymous students filled the Littlefield Fountain with red dye in the early hours of International Working Women’s Day, and cut off early when he was found dead in his home, by accident, nature, or most likely: his own doing.
Reece, who calls himself a womanist and teaches lessons on consent, likely had been closely following our campaigns against abusers as it directly relates to the subject matter taught in his courses. The allegations against him came out some time after the Littlefield Fountain was dyed, but before Morrisett was found dead. Throughout the #MeToo movement and this campus movement against abuse, he remained oblivious and failed to analyze his own treatment of women, releasing an article about the grey areas of consent. This prompted his ex girlfriend to share her story on Twitter about the rape and abuse she experienced while dating Reece. More allegations surfaced shortly after and Reece contacted her, claiming she was lying about their relationship and asking her to stop. Although he denied that she was still affected by the rape and did not forgive him, he admitted to her (and later, a Vox journalist) that he did sodomize her after a fight, which he did not call rape. In one of the messages, Reece asked what she wanted to happen to him. We do not think this was a sincere attempt to seek out what steps he should take towards rectifying his violent behavior and crimes against women. Instead, we believe he asked this out of fear of what would happen to him at the hands of the people, including his own students, who have fought back hard against abusers for several months.
In the last week of March, we released a statement about Reece, alerting UT students of the allegations against him, and began distributing flyers with a photo of him and a brief description of the allegations. Previous colleagues of Reece also wrote statements against him in this week and the first week of April. No other actions were taken against him before he cancelled a week of classes on April 6th. Though we only recently discovered that he cancelled these classes, we noticed that he did so on the same day Morrisett was found dead in his home. It is very likely that Reece feared for his career and wellbeing in light of this new development.
We have no doubt that Reece is guilty of the crimes he has been accused of, based on him leaving campus out of fear, as well as his own admission of truth to the most serious of the allegations. Though the students have won a small battle by removing him from campus for the rest of the semester, we do not believe this is sufficient. Reece, in typical predatory fashion, is likely hoping that this incident will blow over in time to return for the fall semester, when he can return in peace. If we are to achieve true justice for his victims, we must stop him from being able to use patriarchal violence ever again. Though we could achieve this through destroying his career and tarnishing his reputation, as many men accused by the #MeToo movement have experienced, revolutionaries should take up the principle of “curing the sickness to save the patient”. Rapists, abusers, and all men who carry out violence against women are inflicted with a patriarchal capitalist disease that cannot be cured simply by removing every individual man, but only through carrying out a revolution which destroys the class basis for the creation of patriarchal ideas. In the process of building revolutionary power, we must grapple with achieving the goal of revolutionl through the strenuous, deep political transformation of patriarchal men who commit violence against women into proletarian feminists.
Proletarian feminists believe that men and women do not have irreconcilable differences, but that working class men and women both share a common interest in the destruction of the ruling class that utilizes patriarchal violence as one of many tactics to ensure the oppression of the working class, which women compose a majority of. Though we are far from attaining the power necessary to subject abusive men to the rectification of proletarian women’s organizations, in favorable conditions, we aim to transform abusive men into true proletarian feminists that see women’s oppression, capitalism, and often, their own oppression as inherently tied up in each other. This political education, and the practice that must follow from this theory, transforms these men over time and pushes them to take up the task of building political power for the working class in order to ensure the destruction of capitalism and all its tools of oppression. The case of Professor Reece has shown that no amount of bourgeois education, theses, and degrees will ever provide men with the tools they need to end their destructive, patriarchal behavior. These tools can only be found through the class struggle — through fighting tooth and nail to destroy their old, individualistic, self-serving ways and in their place building revolutionaries who serve the interests of the people.
As an organization, we have yet to achieve transforming an abusive individual into a true fighter for the working class. Last year, we offered this opportunity to an ex-member, Carlos Salamanca, after he was found guilty of multiple counts of abuse and manipulation. He rejected this offer in favor of moving out of the state and being isolated from all political organizing in any city where he tries to show his rat face. We expected he would choose the coward’s path, but nonetheless, we were prepared to undertake the intensive task of transforming him because we have a duty to keep our movement and the people safe from further abuse whenever possible. We never had this chance with Morrisett who died before he showed any signs of truly understanding his need for this self-transformation. If he did commit suicide due to his guilt, we do not see this as justice, but as cowardice.
With Reece’s temporary withdrawal from teaching, we now have an opportunity to take up the difficult task of transforming an abusive man in power into a proletarian feminist. Unfortunately, as students within a relatively small movement, we do not have the ability to force Reece into a rectification process if he does not submit himself to one. However, if we are to hold ourselves to our political lines, we must set the stage for this process and encourage him to be willingly held accountable to the student body and to those he has abused, and offer him this chance at political transformation. It would be wrong for us to not fight for actual justice when the task seems too difficult or even impossible due to our lack of power and resources. An important task for the revolutionary movement across the US is developing an understanding of how to transform abusers now so that we can neutralize threats to our growing movement and when possible, bolster its strength, and to be able to carry out this transformative process effectively when we do have the power to subject abusers to it.
In order to have Reece agree to this transformation, we must make him see the necessity for personal change. This is one reason for our confrontational tactics that alert the student body to abusers and force the University to respond. By being consistently attacked with reminders of his crimes, we aim for Reece to understand how serious these allegations are and for him to realize that he must change. All abusive behavior is learned. It is not part of an individual’s nature; it can be destroyed through education and practice. Since Reece learned his “feminist” values through bourgeois schooling, leading him to a horribly flawed understanding of feminism and allowing him to be happily ignorant to his own patriarchal behavior, he must throw out his old ideas and be taught new ideas. The tables have turned and it is time for the bourgeois teachers to learn from the proletarian students and women. Hopefully this campaign has successfully forced him to come to terms with his abusive behavior, and shown him that he has not sufficiently transformed himself. If he does wish to change, we urge him to undergo this process with women students and RSF members at the forefront of this process.
This statement serves a dual purpose: to publicize the beginning of this process and to invite Professor Robert Reece to be held accountable in front of the people and commit to taking the first steps towards changing himself. The first step of this process will begin with a public People’s Trial on Thursday, [edit: May 10] at 6 PM to be held on the steps on the UT Tower overlooking the Main Mall. This trial will be a chance for the student body to formally pass its judgment on Reece’s actions and to unleash their full rage, confronting Reece with the pressure necessary to make him realize the gravity of his actions and the need for a change. The evidence of his crimes will be presented, deliberated by a jury of students, and the verdict will be rendered by a tribunal of women revolutionaries. Reece will be allowed the opportunity to decide if he will choose to undergo the process of transformation or instead choose to let his personal situation fall even further than it already has through a campaign that will aim to end his career at the University of Texas and any other universities permanently.
While this is not the only means of communication we will attempt to reach Professor Reece through, we do not expect him to appear for the People’s Trial regardless of whatever means we use. Whether out of personal cowardice or because UT would urge him not to attend such an event, since it would not be in the University’s interests to have students take accountability into their own hands where the administration has failed, Reece will likely avoid any responsibility for his actions and the responsibility he has to the students, the people, and the victims of his crimes to change his ways. Regardless of whether or not he appears, the People’s Trial will be held, and his absence would be marked as the public admission of guilt and refusal to rectify. His refusal to appear only means offering the students an opportunity to meet and begin three months of plans to organize for the campaign to force him off of campus when he returns in the fall.
While we would prefer for Reece’s sake and for the sake of the people that he appear at the Trial, we would nevertheless consider both outcomes a victory. If he has a genuine desire for change, then we will be able to disarm an enemy of the people and gain a fighter for the people. If he fakes his sincerity or does not appear, then we will be able to disarm an enemy of the people through mobilizing the people in a campaign against him. Whichever path he chooses to take, we are prepared for the outcome. We enthusiastically uphold this People’s Trial as marking the first exercise in recent history to carry out justice by the revolutionary student masses and we anxiously await to see what the day of the Trial has in store.
LONG LIVE THE PEOPLE’S JUSTICE!
LONG LIVE THE PROLETARIAN WOMEN’S MOVEMENT!
Revolutionary Student Front – Austin