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One step forward, five steps back

Very big news broke out of our campus this week.

In an instant, a former MU athlete – and MU itself – was catapulted to the national spotlight. We all know what I’m talking about.

Because of Michael Sam, important dialogues are now happening all over the nation and all over this campus. This is a big step forward.

But, let’s not forget why MU was in the national spotlight just a few weeks ago. Let’s not take five steps back.

A column by our own Stephanie Ebbs summed up everything I wanted to say with this title, “Keep moving forward in the MU dialogue about sexual assault, rape.” 

As Stephanie says….

“The problem is this: The rape culture will not go away just because people stop talking about it. Menu Courey was not the first to accuse MU athletes of sexual assault, nor will she be the last. This was not the first time allegations of sexual assault have been mishandled, nor will it be the last.”

I have been working on an article that will hit on faculty and staff training/obligations under Title IX. These topics — such as a “mandatory reporting requirement” in situations of a student reporting sexual harassment or assault — are not black and white.

These topics are difficult and tragic. They are gray. Even so, they have to be discussed on this campus. As I’m finding through my reporting, confusion and conflicting statements run amuck in regard to how MU faculty/staff should handle the complicated situation of a student disclosing to them sensitive, personal information. What I mean by “sensitive, personal information,” is, of course, situations of sexual harassment or assault.

With statistics as staggering as they are (one in five women is sexually assaulted during her college years), there has never been a more necessary time to talk about how college campuses can use Tile IX to prevent harassment or assault.

So, as students and journalists, let’s not let this one be swept back under the rug. Let’s keep the discussion moving forward. Let’s take a step.

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Stopping by the park on a snowy day

Clyde Wilson Memorial Park

Clyde Wilson Memorial Park

 

When up to 11 inches of snow blankets a town, everything falls silent. Everything, that is, except for east campus neighborhoods.

Music blasts from houses full of friends who braved the snowy streets for some company. Cars with “Jimmy John’s” signs up top swerve and swivel their way through the seemingly impassible narrow streets, screeching as they go. Some east campus residents clearly forgot to go to the grocery store yesterday.

So, if you’re looking for quiet on a snow day in east campus, grab your best jacket, hat and friend. Head to the periphery where Clyde Wilson Memorial Park borders civilization. Entrances lie along Rockhill Road, Wilson Avenue and Rollins Street.

As you take the snowy, but passable path, deeper into the 9-acre, wooded park, the sounds of east campus are stilled. You won’t be alone, though.

“You just feel calm and peace among the snowy trees,” said my friend standing beside me, only her eyes showing beneath her purple, frosted hat. “All you can hear is the air.”

When the only sound is the air and crunching snow, vulnerability becomes less and less daunting, the further in you go.

Your friend, in the snow-capped, purple hat, tells you heavy things that rise lightly in the tranquil air, disappearing. You do the same. When everything around you is covered in white, you see one another better.

Today, these woods are lovely, dark and deep. Promises you once said you would keep rise and sweep away with the downy flakes.

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