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Columbia journos: We goofed pillorying student cleared of rape charges by Columbia itself

February 7, 2015

My latest blog post for the Independent Women’s Forum:

Columbia Student Carrying Mattress Emma Sulkowicz

Oops–maybe that one-sided reporting of ours was a little unfair

It’s too little, too late, but at least it’s something.

Two writers for the Columbia Spectator, the university’s student newspaper, have conceded that the paper’s months-long, glowingly positive coverage of Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia senior who’s been lugging a mattress around campus in order to shame a male classmate she claims raped her during their freshman year, was unfairly one-sided.

No kidding. It was the Spectator, after all, that made the decision, as early as May 2014, to publish the name of the classmate whom Sulkowicz fingered, Jean-Paul Nungesser, even though a Columbia campus tribunal had earlier exonerated Nungesser, not only of sexual assault charges brought by Sulkowicz but of similar charges brought by two other Columbia women in the wake of Sulkowicz’s accusations. After his name became known around campus, Nungesser became a pariah, shunned by his fellow students.

You would have thought that being cleared of not one but three separate charges might have suggested to the Spectator’s editors that Nungesser was, just maybe, the victim of a pile-on and that he deserved to have his privacy respected. But no—the triple charges were actually one of the newspaper’s reasons for blasting Nungesser’s name all over campus:

“Although these students have said that he was found “not responsible” in each case, the fact remains that three women have now accused Nungesser of sexual assault through the University’s adjudication process.”

Being accused of something was as good as being found guilty, in the Spectator’s view.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

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