One of the few certainties in the events surrounding Quinn Matney’s false report is that it has let down both his advocates and the administrators who faced anger for their lack of forthrightness about a week-old incident.
More importantly, the fallout risks creating a chilling effect on those who would have otherwise looked to this incident as affirmation that they should come forward about acts of assault.
Matney said he was attacked on April 4 near Craige Residence Hall in an anti-gay hate crime. The University didn’t alert the campus for a week, and our first reaction to news was that it should have been reported to students much sooner. It seemed administrators were not doing enough to make students aware of assaults on campus.
In fact, the administration’s handling of Matney’s assault report seemed even worse than the reported armed robbery last week in Morrison Residence Hall. Hate crimes are directed at entire communities, not just individuals.
Then came Monday’s email from Chancellor Holden Thorp. The belated email sparked concerns about communication — students are not clear on when they will be notified of crime. There needs to be an understandable channel of information between the Department of Public Safety, administrators and students.
These concerns and these conclusions were widely shared, but after Matney’s case, the University seems vindicated in its delay. The crime that caused so much outrage did not occur. Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp said that there was in fact no assault.
On the other hand, the University’s Monday notification indicates that officials did not know before yesterday that Quinn’s story was false. If not, it is still troubling that students were not made aware of a potential hate crime.
The unfortunate victim of the false report is the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Straight Alliance. Its leaders did an impressive job mobilizing support for Matney over the past several days. Now, they have been betrayed.
Our values demand that we stand in solidarity with victims, regardless of who they are. Overnight, students’ outpouring of support for what they perceived was a genuine assault was impressive.
Even as the conditions that led to Matney’s wounds are declared false, the broader community proved that it stands for the laudable values of an inclusive campus.
In spite of the many questions and concerns that remain, for that we can at least be thankful.
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