(Ms. Suter’s editorial was published a week ago, but I didn’t have time to post it until now.)
Ivy Barton Suter was in the first class of women to graduate from the Academy. She did her sea year at a time when the Academy was essentially making it up as it went along when it came to supporting female midshipmen, especially at sea. As this history describes it,
After creating quarters in the barracks, ensuring appropriate lavatory facilities, and securing berthing space aboard ships, the Academy did little if anything to help women students deal with an often unwelcoming, if not hostile, environment.
Thus, Ms. Suter’s excellently written editorial published in The Hill’s Congress Blog is worthy of particular consideration. You should read it all, but here’s a sampler:
The Academy’s leaders panicked. Instead of bringing people together to come up with tangible solutions, it sought to make headlines by suspending “Sea Year,” the cornerstone of the curriculum during which our male and female midshipmen train on commercial vessels. Academy leaders are operating under the bizarre assumption that sexual assault and harassment can only happen on a ship, not on a campus.
The negative impact of this decision on our midshipmen in terms of professional development is hard to overstate. How did the Academy’s leaders arrive at such a radical, unprecedented decision? We don’t know. They have stubbornly refused to share the data not only with the students, but also with parents, alumni and, amazingly, the U.S. Congress, with members making multiple requests.
This is by no means her first contribution to the debate. She also wrote a great op-ed in the Maritime Executive and appeared in this Maritime TV video on the sea year
stand down cancellation. Bravo Zulu Ms. Suter.