Two weeks ago, The Hyde Park List—which accuses six students of sexual violence—was posted on Tumblr and distributed on flyers across campus. Since then, the list has garnered both national attention and on-campus notoriety. While the University has recently taken positive steps in updating its sexual assault policies, both The Hyde Park List and the march in solidarity with survivors held last Wednesday speak to a remaining lack of trust in the University to responsibly manage cases of sexual assault. In an e-mail sent out on September 26, the administration responded to The Hyde Park List and precipitating events by pointing students to resources and policy changes that have occurred in the past year. But the University needs to do more than just reiterate its commitment to taking sexual assault seriously, and in addition needs to take steps to rebuild the broken trust between administration and students.
The aforementioned e-mail introduced the new associate dean of students in the university for disciplinary affairs Jeremy Inabinet. Under the new University-wide disciplinary system, Inabinet will generally be the first person to whom students will bring forth allegations of sexual misconduct. According to Dean of the Students in the University Michele Rasmussen in an e-mail to The Maroon, Inabinet has “helped colleges and universities write policies and procedures, trained hearing boards and investigators to effectively manage incidents of gender bias, and conducted Title IX investigations.” However, students will need more than this to feel reassured that they can go to the University with their complaints. As he assumes his duties, Inabinet needs to be visible on campus and present in discussions of sexual assault and harassment. He should speak on his previous experiences in these kinds of cases to demonstrate that he is a resource students can feel comfortable going to.
Rasmussen’s e-mail, which also outlines the resources available to students who have been victims of sexual assault, is useful but is not enough to fully address the concerns and frustrations vocalized by sexual assault survivors and which surround The Hyde Park List. These kinds of statements sound like administrative speak to many students and don’t inspire confidence in the administration on the part of students. Though trust can only be gained gradually, that confidence is something the University needs to actively and urgently try to earn.
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