Last week, Kaylen Strench wrote an opinion piece in the Thresher calling attention to the lead story of the previous issue, whose headline read, “Seventh Under Scrutiny: Sid Richardson College faces administrative backlash following sexual assault at unregistered party.” Kaylen wrote that the headline and accompanying photo of Sid contributed to making it “not only unclear that a sexual assault had occurred, but … imply[ing] that whatever happened, the members of Sid Seventh were somehow to blame.”
The headline for the article was the topic of considerable discussion among certain members of the Thresher editorial staff. While the headline is factual, it was certainly not intended to obscure the fact that a sexual assault was reported or to shift responsibility from the perpetrator of the assault. If it did convey such messages, then in retrospect I wish we had written it differently.
We were concerned that a headline focusing purely on the assault would serve to sensationalize the event and detract from the tragic reality that such assaults occur to many students throughout the year. Though this particular assault was publicized due to RUPD’s crime alerts, and so elicited a much greater response from students and administration, we didn’t want to create the perception that the assault was an isolated incident. As the Survey on Unwanted Sexual Experiences results showed earlier this year, sexual assault is widespread on campus.
In reporting on events like the assault, we hope to not only make the Thresher a source of fact amid rumors, but also support further conversation surrounding the assault and what we must do to make our campus a safer place. But I’m glad that she spoke out about the misplaced blame she saw in our headline — and I’m thankful she reminded us all that in the end, the assaulter and the assaulter alone bears culpability for the violence they inflict.