Why we write about rape cases

By Molly Atchison | Editor-in-Chief

Dear Lariat Readers,

Over the past few weeks, the Lariat has pursued stories for our cops and courts section that revolve around the touchy subject of sexual assault and the allegations reported in Baylor’s crime log, which is mandated by the Clery Act. As could be expected, the reports and the stories we did based off those reports, didn’t give much detail as to the specifics of the cases at hand. Because of that, and the restrictions we face from a legal standpoint, our ability to report on these issues to the fullest extent has been limited. I want our student body to know that we do not take these issues lightly and that we are not trying to sensationalize such serious issues simply to get a reaction from our readership.

Our goal at the Lariat is never to incite any sort of fear or anxiety within our audience, but we do aim to report truthfully what is happening on campus. Sometimes that means writing stories that may not have much depth to them but that give a general understanding of an issue that has arisen on or near campus. The stories we’ve written in the past few weeks fall along those lines. I want to explain that due to the guidelines of Title IX, as well as the Clery Act and police investigations, we are legally prohibited from sharing information that is not readily available in online reports from these offices. That doesn’t mean that we can’t write the story; it simply means that we are limited in what we can share and what we even know about the cases we discover in these reports.

With that in mind, one may ask why we would even report on these issues at all. The answer to that is simple: Because it’s our responsibility to find the truth and make it known to the public. We owe it to you, our readers, to keep an updated, public and visual record of the happenings on campus. Sometimes, that’s interesting speakers or exciting events, while other times it is just as I said — reports of interpersonal violence or crimes happening in our community.

At the moment, the university is still reeling from an overwhelming number of Title IX allegations, investigations and reform. When such a public catastrophe occurs, media outlets turn into watchdogs, focused on bringing light to the issue as much as possible until the issue is resolved. The Lariat treats the Baylor Title IX scandal with the same focus, and while many impactful changes have been made, we don’t believe the issue is resolved. Therefore, we will continue to keep an eye on stories that revolve around this area of news, so that we can do our duty to keep our Baylor community informed.

Unfortunately, since the subject is so sensitive, and since there are so many restrictions on what information we are legally allowed to share, we may unintentionally bring discomfort the Baylor population affected by these issues. Let me be clear, it is against our policy to ever share intimate and personal information such as a sexual assault victim’s name without their consent. We want to protect our peers, and we want those affected by this tragedy to be able to heal on their own terms. Sometimes, finding balance between our compassion and our duty is difficult, but that is why we have such dedicated and hardworking students on our staff, so that we can be as compassionate as possible in our reporting without sacrificing the facts. Not everyone will agree with our approach, but trust me when we say we are working our hardest to make sure the Baylor population has the best information possible.

In the future, we hope to expand our efforts and work closely with university administrators and students alike, so that we can all benefit from the transparency and clarity of our journalism, and of our university policy. If there is anything that you, the readers, feel the Lariat can do better, we always welcome your input and want to share your voice. You can email LariatLetters@baylor.edu to publish a letter or column with us, or simply email Lariat@baylor.edu if you feel there is something we should address.

I hope your semester is full of joy and success, and that you continue to invest in the Lariat as much as the Lariat invests in you.

Molly Atchison