Improving the Media Coverage of Sexual Violence On Our Campuses

imgres-2Greetings, Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) sports fans.

You might have seen my article last week when I talked about the unfathomable lack of institutional control at Baylor University, which permitted an unchecked culture sexual violence.  Much has happened since I published that article.  Just a small update on this:  Ken Starr has been demoted to Constitutional Law professor, is no longer the chancellor, and he doesn’t remember seeing an email where he was made aware of sexual violence on campus.  Also, Baylor’s Athletic Director, Ian McCaw, resigned.  Additionally, Jim Grobe was hired as Baylor’s interim football coach.  And, I like this – Grobe is a solid, character guy – and a hell of a coach.

The media has covered the Baylor tragedy well, but they have much to improve as to how they report on sexual violence.  Let’s take Dave Southorn’s most recent article in the Idaho Statesman, about three Boise State football players who were expelled  (Marquis Hendrix and Donzale Roddie)  or suspended (Darreon Jackson) after a sexual assault investigation.  There were no criminal charges filed against any of the men.  Under its Title IX authority, Boise State took the expulsion and suspension action on these players under.  The victim did not file charges with the Boise Police Department, but did file a Title IX complaint with Boise State.

In his news story, Mr. Southorn takes a quote from a player’s father:

“I’m extremely upset, upset how those boys were treated,” Hendrix’s father, Jack, told the Statesman. “We feel their civil rights were violated, that they were interrogated, not given a chance to truly defend themselves. There are some promiscuous young ladies hiding behind Title IX, and there’s a vendetta against football by those investigators. There was no police investigation, or no repercussions for her actions.

I would have been fine if Southorn’s quite ended after the first two sentences because the Hendrix is talking about due process, but including the next two sentences means that you as the journalist might just be trying for some “clickbait” in your articles.

I also notice that many of the sexual violence stories are written by men – how about having a woman write a story about this?   And next, you notice how there was no take in this story from a woman? Southorn could have asked the Boise State Women’s Faculty Association for a quote  – he could asked a Boise Rape and Abuse Crisis Center (or a women’s shelter) for their take.  They might have provided reasons for why this woman chose to file a complaint through Boise State and hasn’t yet with the Boise Police Department.

Granted, the Idaho Statesman could have separate articles on the female reaction to a story like this, but it’s better to include both sides in one column.   We have one side of the story here – and that does disservice to this story.  Too often, we see males and their take in stories like this – but that’s only one gender – and the media needs to do better here.

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