Monday, April 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: College rape bill overdue, if not enough

A congressional effort aimed at curbing sexual assaults on college campuses smartly seeks to simplify the maze victims must navigate after an attack. The bill, introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers that included Sen. Marco Rubio, would make clear the channels for reporting rape and require training for campus investigators and persons involved in disciplinary panels. It also will hold universities accountable for being transparent about on-campus assaults. These steps are necessary to force change in a culture that too often protects perpetrators, shields universities and discourages victims from pursuing justice.

The legislation, the Campus Safety and Accountability Act, seeks to revamp a broken system surrounding sexual assaults on college campuses, where as many as 95 percent of all rapes go unreported. The act would provide victims with confidential advisers who would support and guide them through their legal options. The proposal also requires specialized training for advisors and anyone participating in on-campus disciplinary procedures or investigations. Students would be surveyed annually about sexual violence on campuses and the results made public in an effort to present a more accurate picture of campus life.

The legislation also would require that campuses create uniform procedures for disciplinary proceedings and discontinue hearings by subgroups such as athletic departments. Under the legislation, colleges and law enforcement would share information to solve alleged sexual violence crimes. Schools that fail to comply could see a 1 percent hit to their operating budgets and face other financial penalties.

Lawmakers should be commended for trying to change rules and operating procedures on campuses that too often benefit perpetrators and leave victims to fend for themselves. But the proposed measures don't go far enough. Investigating sexual assault complaints and meting out punishment should not be handled by universities. It should be a police matter, handled by personnel trained to deal with such highly complex cases. Law enforcement should take the cases seriously and conduct timely and thorough investigations.

Overhauling campus cultures with a bias toward protecting athletes and blaming the victim will not happen overnight. But no student, male or female, should have to view the possibility of being sexually assaulted as one of the routine hazards of college life. Colleges and universities have an obligation to provide safe environments for all students, and when those safeguards fail, students should be directed to police. Students also must take responsibility for protecting themselves and be mindful that alcohol and drug use can lower their defenses and make them easy prey for those who would do them harm. There is never an excuse for sexual assault, and the entire country must make sure that message and the punishment for violations are clear and consistent.

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Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18