By Joanna Tavares
Sexual assault is a very serious matter that can be both physically and emotionally crippling. So you would expect a college campus to be as open as possible about these types of cases in order to ensure no further harm to victims, right?
Stony Brook University has joined the infamous list of schools being investigated for how they handled these ugly attacks and whether they have been as transparent as they should be. Many of the colleges under investigation have been accused of sweeping sexual assault cases under the rug.
Why all the secrecy? To run a successful college, there must be a sense of community in order for learning opportunities to flourish. But if the campus starts disclosing only some or none of these attacks on innocent victims, fear replaces trust in the system and everything goes downhill. Unfortunately, this is not the first time light has been shed on Stony Brook’s questionable misdealings of these affairs.
Now I’m not saying the school should publicly post the full details, names and all, whenever an attack takes place — that would be heartless and unnecessary. However, it is vital that a post is made on the school’s website or a press conference takes place so the people living on or around campus are aware something has happened. They would know that the school is taking action to solve the problem and help in every way possible.
Being open about investigations shows a level of honesty among school officials and the students, leading to trust and healing. Not only is this just the right thing to do, Title IX has been put in place to make sure schools do follow proper procedures and help the victim continue on with their life.
Despite this piece of legislation, Stony Brook has been accused of violating these requirements. On July 23, 2014, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights started an investigation looking into whether or not the complaints against the school were true. This comes after President Obama signed the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault in January 2014. In this memorandum, a mandate was established to ensure schools are taking the right steps after a sexual assault case happens to hopefully prevent any cases that may happen in the future.
When a female or male falls victim to sexual assault, there are so many emotions that go along with the physical pain that can detrimentally affect a person’s life. What I do not understand is why a college, which for most people is a home away from home, would choose to make the experience that much more painful by not taking their investigations seriously. It’s a brutal betrayal when someone can’t rely on their own Alma Mater to have their back.
No school should turn its back on its own students.
Stony Brook needs to comply with Title IX properly and be open about its investigations. Keeping a professional demeanor while still being open and honest will make both the victim and university officials happy.