Our Stance: Let’s end the silence surrounding sexual assault at the University of Oregon
The University of Oregon is responsible for significant failures over the last few months.
Three student athletes have failed as role models for the university community. The administration and athletic department have failed in taking swift action and being transparent in addressing an alleged rape. And we’ve failed as students — through silence, victim blaming and acceptance — in allowing our campus to be a rape tolerant environment.
Dominic Artis, Damyean Dotson and Brandon Austin were accused of allegedly raping a woman in the bathroom of star point guard Johnathan Loyd’s home, then again at Artis and Dotson’s apartment. Whether or not these allegations are true should be left to a proper police inquiry. Whether or not it was consensual doesn’t change the fact that the actions admitted by these three men are of the lowest character ever recorded by a UO student athlete.
Having group sex with an intoxicated person without consent is a moral crime that these three will have to live with for the rest of their lives.
The UO administration has an obligation to protect its students, but the way this case was handled suggests otherwise. Not every detail surrounding this case is available yet, but everything released over the last 72 hours is damaging to the administration, athletic department and the community.
The UO admitted to learning of the allegations against the three athletes as early as March 9, three days before Dotson and Artis started Pac-12 tournament play and continued to March Madness. While it’s understandable that authorities didn’t want the administration to muddle the investigation, it still looks like basketball was prioritized over justice.
The context and breadth of the Eugene Police Department’s request that the administration not intervene is unclear. However, it seems the UO was far too willing to use that request as justification to permit the three athletes to play in the most important games for the men’s basketball program in recent years. It makes men’s basketball head coach Dana Altman look bad. It makes the athletic department look bad. It makes the UO look worse.
Each entity acted as if nothing happened until it was finally made public by Eugene Police in a 24-page report. The UO administration has frivolously used the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act — a law intended to protect a student’s educational record — in order to defer any questions about the incident, creating a general lack of trust among the media and many faculty members.
The UO’s policies regarding sexual assault appear troublingly lenient. In comparison to national statistics that range from 10 to 25 percent, UO has a one percent expulsion rate for sexual assault, the Center for Public Integrity reports.
In 2012 there were 39 cases of sexual assault reported to UO. No one was expelled.
What’s even more troubling is the stigma that the UO is a rape tolerant campus. After the police report detailing Artis, Dotson and Austin’s actions came to light on Monday, many students automatically discounted the survivor’s testimony without reading the police report for themselves.
The blame for this incident is on all of us, and we cannot escape the weight of this situation. We as a student body need to take a step back and wonder why situations like this occur in the first place. This issue — as ugly as it may be — is something that we will have to address.
As students of the UO, we need to demand a change.
We should demand that President Michael Gottfredson launch an external review of how this case was handled.
We should demand that sexual assault be treated like a violent crime instead of an infraction.
And we demand that our administration be transparent in this and all other issues.
You don’t fix a problem with silence. We need to address these issues as a community. When it comes to rape, we need to support our own.
This editorial reflects the views of the Emerald’s editorial board. The editorial board is composed of Editor-in-Chief Sam Stites, Senior Managing Editor Eder Campuzano, Digital Managing Editors Chelsea Wicks and Eliza Collins, Print Managing Editor Samantha Matsumoto, Art Director Jake Crump and incoming Editor-in-Chief Sami Edge.
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