Thursday, May 15, 2014

Naming names: Transparency and safety on campus

As I wrote yesterday, some people have begun campaigns to bring to light campus sexual assaults. The transparency at the government level with the publishing of the list of schools currently under investigation has been only part of public revelations. The campaign by Ultra Violet is one such effort. Even more grassroots are the publishing of names of rapists on their respective campuses. At Columbia, the names of alleged rapists have been written in bathroom stalls and left on fliers in the stalls.
[The trustee at Occidental who wanted names would have been quite pleased with the disclosure.] 
The victims and their allies at Columbia have been quite vocal in their displeasure with the administration's handling of sexual assault cases.
But they are not the first to publicly reveal the names of assailants.
At both Brown and William and Mary, individual women who were sexually assaulted publicized the names of their attackers when their respective universities found them guilty but let them re-enroll.
And students at schools including Portland State and American University are using social media to name names.
Obviously there is a danger of false accusations and witch hunts. But I argue that these efforts are a result of the continued secrecy of many schools. Perhaps as schools do better investigating cases and appropriately punishing perpetrators, there won't be a need for the publishing names in order to protect others.