To the Editor: Thank you for your coverage of Tuesday night's "Night to Speak Out" on sexual violence. Your story ("Rally brings men, women together," The Daily Pennsylvanian, 10/25/00) helped the organizers in STAAR to reach even more students than expected. As the STAAR advisor, I want to correct one misperception that your story may unfortunately reinforce. You state that "Take Back the Night, the nationwide annual march against sexual assault in the spring, does not include men." From campus to campus and from year to year, men play a wide variety of roles in Take Back the Night -- as speakers, marchers and planners. Each year, the student planners for Penn's Take Back the Night vigorously debate what role men should take on this campus. As a man who has assisted in planning and even a speaker in past years, I have never encountered any opposition to my role. We live in a society where most people still feel entitled to debate women's "proper role" in politics, sports and even academia. I think it's acceptable to debate what role men should take in Take Back the Night, since men's rights and privileges are rarely open to question. Since STAAR has always been about the business of sexual assault prevention through dialogue and discussion between men and women, it's natural that Tuesday's speakout would be different in character from Take Back the Night. Our campus has proved that it's big enough for both approaches, and that both are of equal value.
Kurt Conklin STAAR advisor Office of Health Education
No campus witch huntsTo the Editor: I am writing in regard to your editorial "Time to name names" (DP, 10/26/00). Your assertion that the names of students convicted by the University judicial system of "violent offenses or non-violent sexual offenses" should be made public is short-sighted and potentially dangerous. First, the standards of evidence required for conviction at the University level fall far below that of the criminal justice system, and second, the accused has no right to legal representation at his or her trial. Therefore, a student can be publicly labeled a sexual predator or criminal at the University while no criminal court in the country would convict based on the evidence or offense. This could have severe repercussions for the student while at the University or for their future outside of the ivory tower. We must also keep in mind that those passing judgment are hardly impartial and have no responsibility to answer to the community at large or to ensure justice is achieved. They also lack any credentials or qualifications to do so. Lastly, we must remember that if a violent crime or sexual offense is committed by a student, these are felonies or high misdemeanors. These cases will be prosecuted in the criminal justice system, which is a public forum in which names of the accused and convicted are disclosed. Therefore, most cases before the University judicial system do not reach the level of a true criminal offense or there is not sufficient evidence for a conviction. The University is wise in its policy to protect the privacy of students to ensure student's lives are not destroyed by a Salemesque witch hunt.
Brent Garrels College '95Comments powered by Disqus
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