Friday’s front page story detailing a complaint filed against the University — regarding its handling of sexual assault cases — has rightly shocked and upset many readers.
Several pressing questions accompany the article: Did the University falsify the number of sexual assaults it reported to the federal government? Was former Assistant Dean of Students Melinda Manning really subject to such disturbing instances of harassment?
These questions, and many others, still linger.
But, along with demanding answers, readers should remember that one side of the story has been documented much more fully than the other: that of those who filed the complaint.
Dean of Students Jonathan Sauls and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp, who are at the center of the allegations, declined to comment on them. That fact, and a statement from Crisp, were included prominently in Friday’s article.
This arrangement makes for a balanced treatment of a controversial subject. It does not, however, allow for readers to assume the allegations amount to the whole truth.
So the question becomes, why did we think it was OK to print a story with essentially only one source — the complaint itself?
Indeed, not every accusation would be appropriate for the front page. Friday’s news fit the bill for a few reasons.
First, there is a lot at stake for the public in this story. One of the expectations applied to the public officials who lead this University is that they comply with federal law.