Editorial: Reaction to Rape Highlights the Need for Dialogue

The Minaret is encouraged by President Vaughn’s recent announcement that he has dispatched a group of senior administrators to investigate the status of campus safety and security policies with the view of recognizing lapses from the rape incident and proposing improvements for the future. We hope that the results of this investigation, due to President Vaughn by March 30, will be made public, and we look forward to reading and reporting them.

Vaughn stated that ‘Our institutional response to the recent alleged sexual assault incident and media coverage has, unfortunately, resulted in some misperceptions and yet also provided us with an opportunity to look more closely at our ongoing safety efforts.’

While we applaud all efforts for an honest and open investigation, unsettling statements recently made by University officials force us to call their sincerity into question. On at least two occasions, security officials have publicly maligned The Minaret, including the following statement made in front of a group of twenty students and a Minaret staffer: ‘you can read about all the lies and misinformation in The Minaret next week.’

In a global e-mail, Dean of Students Bob Ruday said in reference to a Minaret article that ‘remarks attributed to me in the press were incomplete’ and added ‘I am sorry if anything I said or was alleged to have said seemed insensitive.’

Either we accurately reported the story or we didn’t. If we did, these incriminations are nothing more than scapegoating and a subtle form of slander; if we didn’t accurately report it, University officials only need to inform us of our errors for us to address them. Either way, the end of truth is not served by backhanded implications on the part of our officials. We will not allow to go unanswered cowardly and vague sniping that questions our journalistic integrity.

The Minaret takes seriously its twin responsibilities of informing the community and getting the story right. We understand, above all, that the pursuit of truth is an ongoing process. In this spirit, we are always anxious to get our facts straight and correct mistakes. We understand that we are subject to error, as we can only print the most accurate information available to us at the time (we encourage readers to regularly check theminaretonline.com, as we always seek to keep up with the constantly changing available information).

The irony is that it was a failure in communication which precipitated this incident to begin with. What have our officials learned from this ordeal? Are they to continue avoiding the heart of the matter by equivocating with roundabout quibbles?
What remarks of ours were incomplete? What false allegations or misquotations did we print? We’ll be more than glad to accept responsibility for and address any errors brought to our attention through transparent communication. This communication cannot be ensured through mutually exclusive monologues, in the form of stories by us and generic global e-mails by University officials. We want to create dialogue, not monologue. E-mail us at minaret@ut.edu, or directly e-mail our editor, our writers or our advisor. Truth and understanding will be the beneficiaries.

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