Wednesday morning, the New York Times published a very lengthy article about the sexual assault investigation of Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston. In particular, the story focused on the flaws of the Tallahassee Police Department throughout the process, and it drew a lot of buzz around social media once again.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Florida State University issues a long response to the allegations in the piece, and below are some of the highlights.
- FSU does not tolerate sexual assault. Even one sexual assault is a problem. Like other colleges and universities that are grappling with this issue, we actively provide programs and educate students on safe behavior, the meaning of consent and how to properly report cases of sexual misconduct. Contrary to the article’s over-arching theme, FSU takes this matter seriously.
- State and federal privacy laws govern the university’s ability to comment on a particular student or disciplinary matter. This is particularly crucial in cases of sexual assault, where victims may request privacy to heal. To interpret the university’s silence as a lack of interest or an insufficient “level of energy” is utterly wrong.
- The university must balance its duty to investigate sexual assault cases with the welfare of the victim. Many students who contact the Victim Advocate Program make it clear they are only seeking counseling and academic accommodations. They either decline or want to delay the decision to go forward with university or criminal proceedings. Guidance from the U.S. Dept. of Education (April 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter) makes it abundantly clear that the university needs to take these wishes into account. To rush victims or disregard their wishes not to proceed would be re-traumatizing and hinder their recovery.
You can read the entire, lengthy statement released by the school by clicking here.