Should students learn of campus crimes immediately?


Curry College was right in its decision to not inform its students of a gang rape until six days later.

The Department of Public Safety at Curry College, a small liberal arts college in Milton, Mass., waited nearly a week to notify students about a group rape of a highly intoxicated college student, according to The Boston Globe.

Alexa Youssefian | Daily Trojan

Alexa Youssefian | Daily Trojan

 

Curry College did its students a service by waiting for the three suspected aggressors to be arrested on Jan. 25 before notifying students of the assault. An informative email was sent on Monday, Jan. 28. Because of the weekend delay, the administration was suspected of suppressing the news and neglecting to warn the community about danger.

Some might feel scared at the notion that the administration was attempting to keep information from them, but one must take all of the facts into account. Gang rape is a brutal crime and the college has the job of protecting everyone at the school — including the victim. Catching the perpetrators is the first priority and the college’s response was completely appropriate for the circumstances.

Curry College properly waited to release factual information about the rape until the men accused of the crime were arrested so that students would not be misinformed. In this 24-hour news cycle, where information is released every minute on various online platforms, accuracy and truth become undervalued, allowing inaccurate information to flood the public. Hasty delivery of news often distorts correct information and compromises an institution’s credibility as a trustworthy news source.

It is better for the public to be well-informed than to quickly be given improper information, especially on a campus, where students depend mainly on the college’s news releases for information regarding safety.

Accuracy takes time, and Curry College administrators had to vet the email to ensure its quality and accuracy; thus, the email was delayed for several days. If there is no immediate threat, colleges should not frighten its students with emergency alerts.

Even if the email had been sent late on Friday or during the weekend, the college could have easily been suspected of releasing information when the community was least likely to be attentive to administrative releases.

It is also important to consider that Curry College ensured the community’s safety first by having the accused arrested, instead of preoccupying students with possibly inaccurate news, news that would not have given students enough information to be useful. Frances Jackson, the college’s spokeswoman, said Curry properly followed ongoing procedures of the city’s police force first and released a warning email to the community later, when danger had already been dissipated.

The college administration’s actions would have been far more worrisome if the suspects’ arrests had not been ensured, or even worse, if the crime had been hushed altogether without any information released.

Though speed of news delivery is important, it should not overcome the need for accuracy so that news sources can remain reliable. Colleges should be encouraged to take preventive and reactive measures toward public safety first and inform their communities shortly thereafter.

Georgia Soares is a freshman majoring in English.

 Curry College should have informed its students promptly after the crime for their protection. 

Security has always been a hot-topic issue on college campuses. After all, no parent wants to send his or her child away to college only to endanger them. Thanks to legislation like the Clery Act, colleges are required to report on crimes. But, realistically speaking, no matter how safe one might assess a university to be in terms of gun violence, one issue will always linger: sexual violence.At universities where culture is shaped by keg stands and Jell-O shots, many forget what happens in the after hours of these alcohol-fueled parties. The lack of awareness of the fact that at least one in four college women will be the victim of a sexual assault during her academic career, according to the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault, only worsens the problem.Most recently, Curry College, located in Milton, Mass., made the grave mistake of failing to report a campus gang rape in a timely manner. Though shootings and beatings cause a media firestorm, shouldn’t students have the right to learn about their safety in this aspect? Isn’t this right especially necessary when such vile acts occur steps away from where they learn and live?

It is important to review the facts of the case to understand why Curry College’s actions were inappropriate. The attack upon a “highly intoxicated” student occurred on Jan. 20, according to The Boston Globe. The arrests were made on Jan. 25. Curry College’s dean, Maryellen Kiley, then reported the news via email on Jan. 28.

Curry College technically broke the law, as the Clery Act dictates that colleges must inform students of crimes that are considered a threat in a timely manner. And a gang rape is certainly a threat.

But what are the other implications of these violations?

Awareness is key to rape prevention, and Curry College’s actions impeded that. Informing the students immediately allows the community to be aware of sexual crimes perpetrated on campus and to take the steps necessary to protect themselves — whether that might be walking to places in groups or behaving safely at parties. An initial notification had no reason to include all details until the facts were gathered, but some effort to communicate the crime should have occurred instantaneously. Waiting nearly a week was an unacceptable approach to the situation.

And, in the time between Jan. 22 and Jan. 28, students could have mobilized to support other victims of sexual violence after learning about their campus assault. Waiting those six days makes it seem as if the college wants to minimize the event. Immediately informing students of the rape would have shown that the university acts immediately. Without informing students, this immediacy is lost, as is the likelihood of others spreading awareness.

At the end of the day, if individuals, schools and our community fail to take responsibility to stop violence against women, something must be done immediately. By keeping details of the assault quiet until the last minute, the college continued to perpetuate a vicious bystander culture — one in which sexual assault is kept quiet.

By relegating this sexual assault to the backburner, the college makes it appear as if reporting such a dangerous act is not pertinent to the students’ knowledge.

Society cannot accept these instances where women are treated as commodities to be abused and taken advantage of. Curry College made its mistake, and it is evident that other institutions should not follow suit. Otherwise, these actions jeopardize the security of students and the sanctity of womanhood.

Rini Sampath is a freshman majoring in international relations.

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