Today, only after publication of an account of a second Title IX complaint against UW-Whitewater from a second sexual assault survivor, Chancellor Kopper finally chose to issue a statement in her own words (assuming that she wrote it). I have published that statement in full, at the bottom of this post. (For the story on this second complaint, see, Sex assault survivor claims discrimination by university @ Channel 3000, WISC-TV.)
There is no reasonable person who contends that being “committed” is a statement. It’s an action.
And yet, and yet, even the statement finally issued under Chancellor Kopper’s own name reveals the indifference of her prior efforts – she now feels it necessary to begin her second paragraph with the tired phrase, “let me be clear…”
If Kopper had been clear, even in prior words alone, she would not need to remind readers of her self-professed clarity of views.
To those in the university’s Media Relations group – either your chancellor cannot issue a statement without revealing her past indifference, or you cannot draft one for her.
There should be – and so there will be – no end of effort until the institutional misconduct that has failed two women (and perhaps more men and women) ends.
One sees, also, that Kopper falsely professes to avoid speaking about this pending complaint, but simultaneously declares that “[a]ll complaints are reviewed with respect and compassion for all involved.”
No, and no again: that’s the very question at issue here. By asserting that all complaints have been reviewed with “respect and compassion” Kopper most certainly does address the allegations in this pending investigation, by categorically denying their possibility of being true.
A future assault survivor will read Kopper’s words and recognize that past survivors’ claims have been categorically denied. This is an assurance of a chilling effect against future reporting.
Why can she not see this? Honest to goodness, is there no one in her office who can think matters through?
Thus she hides behind a pending investigation selectively, contending that she cannot speak only when it suits her.
In any event, a statement will not suffice. A change of institutional conduct – and removal of those culpable of misconduct – is needed here.
See, please, the It’s On Us Campaign and Not Alone, a site for those who have experienced sexual assault with resources of support.
Chancellor Kopper’s statement immediately follows —
Message regarding recent Title IX complaint
Dear Campus Community,
You may be aware through media reports that a second complaint has been filed with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights alleging that UW-Whitewater may have violated Title IX. Because of the ongoing investigation, I am not in a position to discuss specifics. Our campus will cooperate fully with the Office for Civil Rights as it investigates.
Let me be clear, UW-Whitewater has been and remains committed to raising awareness about the impact of sexual violence and taking steps toward preventing any occurrence of sexual violence on our campus. All complaints are reviewed with respect and compassion for all involved.
I know that all across campus there are faculty, staff and students who are engaged in efforts to help promote a campus climate that is free from violence and discrimination, and I applaud those efforts. As a community, we pride ourselves on being a safe and welcoming place for all.
Please understand that if you have been the victim of a sexual assault, you are not alone. There are people within the UW-Whitewater community here to support you. Retaliation for reporting is strictly prohibited. We encourage you to report sexual assault to UW-Whitewater Police at 262-472-4660 or the Dean of Students office at 262-472-1533.
The campus website offers many resources to help keep you safe: http://www.uww.edu/sexual-misconduct-information/keeping-safe
Hello. I have taught at Whitewater for years and have met so many wonderful students and colleagues on this campus. It hurts to say this, because I want to believe in my institution, but you are right about what you’re saying. It’s embarrassing that we have an administration that cannot think about a simple answer without making a mess of it. We haven’t had a strong chancellor in a long time. The current chancellor and her predecessor are only impressive to people without a top-flight c.v. Many of the faculty are alienated. They tune out what the administation says. No one would place Beverly or Dick in the top ranks of the campus teaching faculty.
It’s startling how easily what the administration says is refuted. (In the words of some of my students, you are easily able to own them.)
I’m an occasional reader, and your website gets more attention here than anyone in the administration would care to admit. (This site shows up really well on a phone, too.) The other website in town is well-meaning but almost a parody. Sometimes it reads like the Onion, only not as well-written.
Wish I could see light at the end of the tunnel, but not yet.
Hello J : you deserve a better leadership than this. Other UW Systems schools have better leaders (UW-Milwaukee, Superior, Eau Claire, and Madison spring to mind). As you’ve mentioned, these last chancellors have been below par for a school of this size and type. One could have had better; the selection process here has been between candidates who are mediocre and ones who are laughably mediocre. Far more talented people (internally and externally) would have loved to lead this school. Whitewater deserved better, as other System schools now have. Someday we will have better, when the selection process avoids a third-tier consultant and third-tier candidates.
So very true.
John: I don’t know, buddy, cool to be humble but I’m guessing you’re not exactly the “underdog” around here.
Hello Rex : thank you, but I will always see myself as a dark-horse underdog; it keeps me sharper.
I can’t believe she doesn’t even know how to answer in a way that actually supports victims’ sense of being supported. Once she says *all* complaints are reviewed the right way, she’s told assault survivors the one thing they fear most – that nothing they’ve said will be believed.
Hello Cathy : The statement issued under Chancellor Kopper’s name is ill-conceived, to be sure.
First of all, a friend of mine pointed out the exclusionary nature of her statement. Being addressed to the “campus community” seems to exclude the public at large who also have a vested interest in seeing that a major player in the community takes domestic violence seriously. Too bad since there’s no shortage of examples where the “campus community” has rushed to embrace the “city dwellers” when it’s to UW-W’s advantage.
Second, “retaliation for reporting is strictly prohibited?” Tell that to Coach Fader.
Hello Flapjack2000 : Oh yes, so very true: it’s all the community that matters, not just parts of it. Not just sometimes, but all the time. University officials want the embrace of city leaders, and city leaders want the supposed glow of a university connection, but Whitewater is more than political leaders and campus administrators. Thousands of residents – student and non-student – should be more than an afterthought. (This university administration doesn’t have much of a glow, to be sure.)
On these federal claims, everyone has a right to expect better than this.
Thanks very much for all your comments. They are sincerely appreciated.