Hello, my name is Heather and I am writing in response to the “Grand jury indicts former student” article. I read the Editorial Board’s, “Why we report on indictments of students” article and all of the points could have been directly addressed without disclosing the student’s name in the first article. I understand that points 1 and 3 would ideally require the specifics of a situation (i.e., an offender’s name), but the particular circumstance that was reported on does not involve someone who has been proven guilty of the charges.
I am in full support of increasing the awareness of sexual assault at universities, and I appreciate the growing efforts of doing so. I participated in the sexual assault training courses that ACU’s office of Student Life made available, and I am fully mindful of its presence in and around our community. However, I hope that the writers and editors of The Optimist recognize that they have undoubtedly already made this former ACU student a criminal in the eyes of his peers and educators. Say the jury finds this former student not guilty, and you all write of his confirmed innocence. Do you think that every person who has read the article of his indictment will catch sight of the new article (in many weeks or months from now) updating all of us on what he actually didn’t do? Who he actually is? Qualities his character actually holds? They probably won’t.
I am a graduate student at ACU, and I have no idea who this former student is. I have never met him, and I have never heard of him (until now). He could be found guilty by the court, in which I would understand and would probably agree with publishing his name in a university article. Still, he could very well be found not guilty. I am disappointed in the unauthorized judgment and lack of appropriateness that has come from The Optimist and members of ACU’s Department of JMC.
It is my hope and request that further caution and consideration be applied in the writing of future articles. I do not think that an apology to the person and family affected would be too much to expect, either.
Heather Newton is a graduate student in the Communication Sciences and Disorders program.