Staff Editorial: Institutions must deal with, not deny sexual misconduct

Thanks to the #MeToo movement, coming forward about incidents regarding sexual abuse has become easier. Yet, major organizations ignore sexual misconduct every day. American institutions, from colleges to corporations, must publicly address instances of sexual misconduct if there is any hope of putting an end to it. 

It happens all the time. Someone is sexually assaulted, while the institution in question does as much as it can to suppress the situation and as little as it can to healthily discuss it. Often, when institutions do address misconduct, they simply send out an anodyne statement. There’s no follow-up, no further investigation. The institution simply washes their hands of the incident and allows it to be pushed aside. 

For example, just in September of this year, two Geneseo students faced criminal charges for sexual assault against another student, according to The Lamron

Besides a statement from Director of Media Relations Monique Patenaude claiming that the college takes sexual misconduct accusations seriously, as reported by The Lamron, the college stayed relatively silent. 

There was virtually no information shared with the campus community while the accused students still attended classes and it has hardly been discussed since. While the college may have encountered restrictions as to what it can explicitly say about a case before an official verdict, this case and others present opportunities. The college could provide forums where students can candidly discuss what they can do, for example. 

If an organization does choose to sweep sexual misconduct under the rug, it may corrode individuals’ trust in the institution. Why should someone trust an organization if it spent years push pabulum while people were hurt?  

“More than 40 percent of college student participants who were sexually victimized in an institutional context did also report experiences of institutional betrayal,” according to studies by The Conversation.

Institutions owe their members and should do right by them. Part of doing so involves being relentless in sexual misconduct cases, even if it reflects poorly on the organization itself. Information always finds a way to the light.u