Any time that a person reports allegations of rape or sexual assault, institutions must be prepared to accept that person, commend them for coming forward and then launch an investigation, regardless of whether the alleged crime occurred last week or last year.
It is disappointing that Amherst chose to instead question the victim’s credibility instead of trying to determine the truth of what occurred.
Situations like the one that Amherst has recently created are a major factor contributing to rape and sexual assault being widely under-reported in the US. Victims fear having their reputation questioned and their name dragged through the mud, while perpetrators of these crimes are able to get away and potentially victimize others. Amherst, out of all colleges, should know this.
Amherst President Dr. Biddy Martin has said this controversy has afforded her an “incredible opportunity to have a conversation.” We think that merely talking about rape and what steps follow an allegation is a waste of time. Instead, Dr. Martin and Amherst should immediately look at why cases of rape and assault at Amherst are not immediately followed up on, and should take steps to prevent such a lack of follow through in the future. It is fine to have a conversation, but it is not fine to mistake conversation for progress.