The University Record, April 3, 1995

Letters

Letters

President, DPS praised for handling of Baker case

We wish to commend President Duderstadt and the Department of Public Safety for taking prompt and decisive action in the recent Internet case involving Jake Baker. We believe their response appropriately recognizes the seriousness of this incident, shows a real commitment to addressing the problem of violence against women on campus, and gives the campus community a clear message that violence against women will not be tolerated.

We abhor the demeaning attitude toward women that Baker's behavior conveys. We also believe that the actions of Jake Baker posed a serious and very real threat, not only to the woman he specifically named, but to the entire University of Michigan community. We note as examples of Baker's conduct the following, based on news accounts and the U.S. Attorney press release:

In his Internet transmissions, Baker wrote that "torture is foreplay, rape is romance, snuff is climax."

In one of his stories, Baker names a U of M student from one of his classes as the victim and uses her name as the title of a story where she is tortured, raped and murdered.

In a different story, he and another man break into this same woman's apartment, tie her hair to a ceiling fan, and torture and mutilate her.

In an unfinished story found in Baker's room during a permitted search, he describes himself abducting at gun-point the same young woman named in his Internet story, taking her to a secluded place off Route 23 in Ann Arbor, and raping and torturing her.

In e-mails to a man in Canada, Baker wrote that "just thinking about it anymore doesn't do the trick. I need to DO IT."

In other e-mail messages to this man, Baker details another specific plan that involves abducting a student from the women's bathroom in his dorm that is located directly across the hall from his room.

While the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment must be carefully guarded, these rights are not unlimited. Detailed communications threatening rape and torture of a real person to take place at specified locations and made by an individual with the apparent ability to carry out those threats go far beyond any notion of harmless sexual fantasies.

When threats such as this are made, those responsible for the safety of the campus community must take action. Indeed, this is a classic example of a case where taking no action means ignoring the safety and the rights of the victim.

By sending a clear message that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated on campus, President Duderstadt and the Department of Public Safety have taken a significant step toward making the campus a safe place for women.


Members of the President's Task Force on Violence Against Women on Campus: Debra L. Cain (co-chair), coordinator, Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center; Daniel G. Saunders (co-chair), associate professor of social work; Nancy E. Abinojar, academic secretary, Department of Chemistry; Stephanie Bulger, graduate student; Julie Kunce Field, clinical assistant professor of law; Beverly Jones, associate hospital director, chief of nursing affairs; Susan W. Kaufmann, associate director, Center for the Education of Women; Eric D. Luskin, director, Family Housing; Wendy N. Powell, personnel representative; Elizabeth M. Shadigian, clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology; Katharine B. Soper, executive assistant; Office of the Vice Provost for Health Affairs; Julie Stacey, undergraduate student