UA botches handling
of on-campus assault
In the past six months, we have witnessed two tragic and disappointing decisions by the University of Arkansas administration. In the first instance, in a letter to the campus community, the administration provided ample instructions on how potential victims might keep themselves safe, but the letter included nothing about consent, and it put no burden on those committing the assaults. The letter was a rather extreme form of victim-blaming, and quite tone-deaf.
Although the university subsequently half-handedly apologized for the letter, the damage was done, and we have seen very little action since then that would count as real repair.
Now, this past week, Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz had the University of Arkansas pay a student accused of sexual assault a $20,000 settlement out of court. This means the University of Arkansas has now compensated this student more than their teaching assistants.
Think about the implications of this: In one brief period, the university administration has blamed victims for the assaults perpetrated on them, and then has actually paid someone accused in an assault $20,000.
Of course, these actions result in additional trauma for already traumatized women. They are also out of touch, illustrating an appalling disconnection from known best practices for reducing violence and sexual assault on campus.
How is it possible that we pay such high-level administrators the big money and they don't know how to protect and support victims on our campus? What needs to happen so that we feel safe sending our children to study at the university? When will these administrators lead instead of blame and buffer?
shouldn't be diminished
I have with great interest followed the various articles on the legacy of Sen. Fulbright, including developments in the last week. While I have lived in Arkansas since 1993, my first 43 years were in the Northeast. More importantly, with respect to Sen. Fulbright, I was in college in the Northeast from 1967-1971, the height of the Vietnam War. Fulbright was a hero to me and most of my classmates because of his eloquent opposition to the war. The question always asked was "How does this guy get elected in Arkansas?" The answer always was "He never voted for a civil rights act." We viewed that as an unfortunate but acceptable price for his contribution to the anti-war movement and foreign affairs in general.
Since I have been in Arkansas, I have become aware of Fulbright's contribution to education in this state, especially to the University of Arkansas. Additionally, while in the past I assumed he had something to do with the Fulbright scholarships, I am now more knowledgeable of his pivotal role in the establishment of that program. It is entirely appropriate that the university honor him for what he has done for higher education in this state and the nation.
Political realities will always dictate that politicians take stands that years later will be found offensive. They have to get elected. It is great that as a county we can evolve to recognize our past failings. It is sad that the good someone does is tarnished by practical choices necessary to gain those accomplishments.