Friday, March 4, the University sent an email to all students concerning recent allegations of sexual misconduct on the behalf of Head Coach Marlin Chinn.
While the email touts the University’s responsibility to students, faculty and staff, the content fails to live up to said responsibility.
The email hides what this editorial board sees as an attempt to smear the reputation and jeopardize the credibility of the student who made the report against Chinn between claims of fairness and due process.
“FIU Police opened a criminal theft investigation involving this student-athlete on or about February 15. Based on information provided to the Athletic Department on February 22, the student-athlete was suspended from the women’s basketball team the following day,” read the email. “Subsequently, the student-athlete reported serious allegations against an FIU employee.”
While we cannot speculate or proclaim the guilt of either party involved, we can condemn the University for its poor decision to release this information, simply because it presents a distraction from the issue at hand.
The University has nothing to gain from announcing the criminal investigation. The inclusion of this information in the email implies that the student filed her complaint to deflect from the criminal investigation she is involved in. It is a case of attempts to discredit an alleged victim of sexual misconduct, and a representation of a larger societal shortcoming.
Being that this editorial board is majority female, this subject hits close to home. Too often the credibility of the accuser is challenged long before and after that of the accused.
Discrediting the alleged victim is a common tactic for defense attorneys. It’s taking a blatant stand and removing objectivity as opposed to bringing awareness to “key facts.”
The University has a responsibility to be a safe-haven for its community to report sexual misconduct free from worry of smear tactics. It would have been better for the University to handle each case on an individual level until they are resolved before using one to suggest the alleged victim might be a criminal – therefore a liar – while both cases are being investigated.
It is the unanimous opinion of this editorial board that the University failed its community with this email. It is our hope that, in the future, the University refrains from such tactics and remains fair, unbiased and supportive of alleged victims.
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