OUR VIEW: Blaming CW skirts real issue

Our View

When several people took issue with a controversial quote by a Student Health Center official in the Feb. 4 Crimson White article “Consent a concern on campus,” at least one person took his case to University President Judy Bonner via email. The reader, who signed his email to the president “concerned reader,” said he was “disturbed” by the quote, which presented the official’s opinions about false accusations of sexual assault.

Bonner responded with the following, in its entirety.

“I understand your concerns. As is often the case with student newspapers and unfortunately professional newspapers as well, reporting is not as accurate as we would hope. The interview that The CW did with [the official] was conducted last November on an entirely different topic. As I understand it, The CW selected comments from the interview on an entirely different topic and wrote a story about rape. I have carboned Margaret Garner, associate dean for the College of Community Health Sciences. The Department of Health Education and Promotion reports to her. She can provide a more comprehensive response. But, thank you for sharing your concerns with me.”

Bonner said this without consulting with anyone at The Crimson White, nor anyone in the Office of Student Media for that matter, to determine if we had, in fact, not been “as accurate as we would hope.” In fact, we had been accurate in reporting that quote, and we have the audio recording to prove it.

A lot of confusion arose after our story came out on Feb. 4. That’s understandable – the topic we addressed in our reporting, sexual assault, elicits strong emotions from many. However, despite Bonner’s incorrect assumption that we misquoted a University official, The Crimson White made a single mistake in the story, which we corrected on the front page in our Feb. 5 edition. We failed to clarify that the quotes in question were obtained from the SHC official in an interview conducted in November 2012, but that interview and the quotes were certainly on the record and certainly about sexual assault on campus.

No quotes were spliced together or selectively chosen to somehow misrepresent a University official’s statements about sexual assault. Far from it. The November interview began with a discussion about sexual health, and moved on to questions and answers about sexual consent. As the audio recording and transcript from the interview in November makes absolutely clear, the official was quoted word-for-word accurately, and in context, on her views on sexual consent. We included these quotes in the Feb. 4 article because they were directly related to the subject matter.

That Bonner would respond to this reader’s email and attempt to assuage his concerns by simply stating that The Crimson White was wrong shows a startling willingness to avoid addressing a controversial and far-reaching issue on campus like sexual assault. The quotes we obtained from the SHC official were controversial precisely because they showed that sexual assault and issues of consent might affect more students than the University would care to admit.

After the reaction to this story, we have decided as an editorial board that issues of sexual assault and sexual consent need more of our attention. As we get deeper into the issue, we can assure you that our reporting will remain strong, ethical and accurate. It is our hope that the UA administration will take notice of both our reporting and respect that we’re doing it ethically and accurately.

Our View is the consensus of The Crimson White editorial board.

Leading in today’s Crimson White:

[Letter to the Editor] Cyclists, drivers should respect the rules of the road 

Cultural drama reinforces themes of friendship, loyalty

Tobacco ban inhibits free will, relationships formed