Rethink policy on sexual assault accusations
Notre Dame, which until recently I have always been nothing but proud to be affiliated with, should rethink its policies on dealing with cases of sexual assault for the benefit of all students, regardless of gender.
Due to an unfortunate situation of late regarding a fellow member of the Notre Dame family, of which I have regrettably been made aware, I feel sickened by the lack of justice that our present system provides.
It is terribly unfortunate how easily it can be overlooked that females are not always the only victims of sexual misconduct. It is even more disheartening to see that this misconception is consciously promoted here at Notre Dame.
The truth is that males too can suffer from the inequities surrounding a case of sexual assault, especially in an environment where young men are looked upon as criminals forced to defend themselves from crushing allegations, no matter how absurd or unfounded they may be.
Here at Notre Dame individuals are guilty until proven innocent of sexual misconduct. Even in a case with absolutely no concrete evidence, the accused will immediately be found at fault.
This means that any student, male or female, may accuse another student of sexual assault on the slightest impulse, for whatever reason, and this accused student could be found guilty regardless of the evidence or lack thereof.
Sexual assault is undoubtedly one of the most dreadful crimes, and false accusations serve nothing but to denigrate its significance. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be a woman who has been a victim of sexual assault.
I fully agree with Notre Dame's placing strong emphasis against sexual misconduct as they do. It is important to create and nurture an environment where a young woman can feel comfortable coming forward with such awful charges. The problem lies, however, in the subsequent trial process of the accused.
One might be under the impression that a situation such as this would never occur, where an individual creates false allegations in order to appear victimized.
I mean what kind of vindictive, manipulative human being would be capable of such a blatantly wrong act as accusing someone of such a farce? You'd be shocked.
It is far too easy for someone to wake up the morning after a night of drunken debauchery and place the blame for their irresponsible actions on the individual with whom they just had seemingly consensual relations.
The American society in which we live is one based on freedom, liberty and natural human rights. Notre Dame's "witch-hunt" tactics of placing the burden of proof on the accused are not merely completely unjust but un-American and un-Christian as well.
Instead, a thorough investigation must be conducted by Notre Dame to fully understand the situation, including delving into the character of each party involved, and find out what exactly went on.
The stakes are much too high in cases such as these for uninformed decisions based on hearsay and conjecture. It is much too easy for innocent students with bright promising futures to be victimized by dishonest individuals who can't come to terms with their own promiscuity.
Finally, cases such as these where sexual misconduct is pinned upon innocent young men serve to cheapen the words of women who truly have been victimized by sexual assault.
An individual who comes forward with charges of sexual assault is less likely to be believed if it is widely known that innocent people have often times been found guilty of similar charges.
The present procedure of handling cases of sexual assault is a shameful blemish on Notre Dame's otherwise untarnished standard of excellence.
Oct. 30, 2001
All Viewpoint Stories for Thursday, November 1, 2001