In today’s edition of the Trinitonian, we report on an alleged sexual assault that occurred at the end of August on Trinity’s campus. While we are in no way trying to compare this alleged assault to the biggest political scandal of the last century, we think that, in the wake of a visit by two of America’s most famous journalists, this is an opportune moment to explain and reflect upon our reporting.
As journalists, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the two journalists who broke open the Watergate scandal and eventually won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage, were dedicated and meticulous, and, most importantly, they were breaking open a scandal with clear delineations between right and wrong, and, also important, with solid, tangible evidence that something illegal and immoral had occurred.
The sexual assault story printed in today’s newspaper is not meant to rehash what might be painful memories for some people or offensive and unwarranted accusations for other people. Instead, our intention was to present the bare facts of the case and focus on the way this university handled the case by looking at both the federally mandated requirements for handling sexual assault cases and the individual interpretation and implementation of these requirements that Trinity has set in place.
The Trinitonian is not a gossip magazine or print version of tumblr (no matter how many times we photoshop our A&E writers onto various anime characters), and neither are we The Washington Post or The New York Times. However, we are a newspaper written by students for students, and we are devoted to keeping our readership informed on the actions taken and decisions made by our university. With this case specifically, it is easy to be swept away by a tide of rumors and assume the university acted in a completely irresponsible manner. However, upon further inspection, it becomes clear that every action taken by university employees was not just legal, but required by the United States government.
In the court of public opinion, justice is not blind. She is outfitted in glasses that give her both x-ray and night vision. She has dual personalities that are constantly at odds with each other and scrutinize various sides of an issue with an uncomfortable intensity.
For this sexual assault case, and all cases that will occur in years to come, we ask that you try your hardest to ignore the temperamental justice in the court of public opinion. Obtain and evaluate the facts and ask yourself how functional our policies actually are. Who are we protecting? And how strong is our protection? It takes a delicate balance of respecting the rights of alleged victims and their alleged attackers to avoid creating a hostile environment, and it sometimes seems like Trinity’s formula might be a bit unbalanced.