16 July 2014

Not a PR Problem! - HWS Doubles Down

What do you do when a young woman is sexually assaulted on your campus and you proceed to bungle the subsequent investigation process? Well, apparently, you act defensively, engage in copious amounts of ass-covering, and continue to justify your every action. Here is the latest missive from Mark Gearan, President of my alma mater ('77) Hobart & William Smith Colleges. I know Mark to be a smart and decent man, which makes this all the more stunning to me. He refers to a letter written by the Chair of the Board of Trustees to The New York Times. You can find it here

I suppose the fact that virtually everyone who reads about the case finds the precipitating assault as well as the Colleges' response totally outrageous should not be seen as an indication that something truly is amiss on campus? 

Both President Gearan and Ms. Zupin seem to miss the real problem. The problem here is NOT the article in The Times. The problem is a sexual assault and a deeply flawed institutional response to it. And the response should not involve invoking "best practices" (typically little more than a ploy to limit legal exposure) but an effort to change the culture on campus. 
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PS: Here is the Change.org petition signed by 3000+ people criticizing the Colleges' handling of this matter.

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