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Lack of Appreciation Of Victims’ Feelings

In the dissent in the Friday, June 7 issue of The Tech [“Higher Standards for Campus Discipline”], Kevn R. Lang, Brian Loux, and Kris Schnee write: “... The Tech states, correctly, that the embarrassing nature of the crime causes victims to remain silent. Such an accusation of the plaintiff’s lack of desire to follow through with the case paints that person in a strictly selfish light.”

The logic here is facile, unworthy and, bluntly, frightening. Sexual assault is not a test of character nor so simple a thing as to be merely “embarrassing.” For many victims of sexual assault, the priority is to keep their head above water. Overwhelming feelings of shame, fear, and powerlessness are far and away more immediate concerns. This is true, to a lesser extent, for most every form of victimization but is at the very nature of sexual assault.

The three authors throw around the term “burden of proof” with little regard for what the phrase actually means. In cases of sexual assault, it is a burden far greater than any one person should be asked to handle. Shortsighted policies designed solely to minimize administrative burdens maximize personal burdens and deter victims from speaking out. This is a step backwards.

Petr Swedock,
I/S Manager, LIDS@MIT