Letter to the Editor: Parents speak out about sexual assault on campus

Collegian file photo.

Dear President Danko and the Butler community,

In August 2016, our daughter enrolled at Butler University as a student-athlete and a member of the class of 2020.   Less than four months later, she was the victim of a violent sexual assault by another student at a fraternity house on the Butler campus. Shortly after our daughter was assaulted, the Lambda Chi Alpha house was closed and her assailant was finally expelled from Butler six months later following a protracted Title IX proceeding.

We are writing to you publicly, because our efforts to schedule a personal meeting with you were rebuffed by your Chief of Staff – Meagan C. Burton-Krieger, EdD – who responded to our request with an e-mail message stating, “The President is not involved in any of the Title IX cases.” The idea that “the President is not involved” in the federally-mandated process for addressing assaults on campus should be of concern to every member of the Butler University Community. The fact that you would refuse to even meet with the mother and father of a freshman victim of a violent sexual attack is deeply troubling to us and, we suspect, to every Butler parent.

The frequency of rapes and other sexual assaults on the Butler campus is a rapidly growing threat to the safety of students and visitors to the University. The numbers speak for themselves. The Clery Act is a federal law that requires colleges and universities to publicly disclose the number of rapes, sexual assaults and other crimes on and off campus each year. In 2016, the most recent year for which Butler has made its Clery Act disclosure, the University reported a total of 17 rapes and sexual assaults – representing a 240 percent increase over the seven incidents reported during the previous year.   None of this can be explained away as simply reflecting contemporary college life. In the same year, Valparaiso University – another private Indiana university with a similar enrolled student population – reported only four rapes and sexual assaults while the University of Notre Dame, with an enrollment of more than twice that of Butler, reported eleven incidents for the same period.

Something is very wrong at Butler University. At the end of her freshman year, our daughter transferred to another university – leaving behind her athletic and academic scholarships, her friends, and her and our hopes for a happy and successful four years at Butler. As the admission cycle for the college class entering in the fall of 2018 draws to a close, hundreds of high school seniors and their parents will weigh an offer of admission from Butler against other opportunities. High on every parent’s list of concerns is the critical question, “Will my child be safe on campus?”   Our family’s experience during the past thirteen months should give anyone considering a Butler education reason to pause and reconsider.

The criminal prosecution of another on-campus rape at Butler will soon go to trial in Indianapolis and the investigation of our daughter’s case continues. At this moment in our national life, much attention is properly focused on ensuring that all women may work and study in an environment of respect, equality and safety. We hope that the University’s Board of Trustees and the entire Butler community will join in this national discussion and take the concrete steps needed to ensure that no other Butler student will be the victim of a campus rape and that no other family will endure the same experience with the University’s leadership and administration that we have.

Susan and Frank

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One Comment;

  1. David Plummer said:

    Every time I read the stories regarding sexual assaults at Butler, I remind myself of U.S. President Harry Truman. “The Buck Stops Here,” was a code of honor by the 33rd U.S. President. And then I look at Butler with University President James Danko. Instead of the buck stopping on his desk, it appears the buck gets passed down the chain to the people who have little to no control over University policy. Mr. Danko is an embarrassment to the University and the Board perpetuates this embarrassment by its unwillingness to dismiss him. With over 6 years under his belt, Mr. Danko should not be permitted to hide behind others. In 6 years, he had plenty of time to review University policies and set the tone that the buck stops at the top. Instead, he shifts blame to others, hides behind lawyers, and demonstrates the exact opposite of “The Butler Way.” Mr. Danko should have sufficient shame that he would resign. Since he hasn’t demonstrated that shame, the Board of Trustees should deliver him a pink slip and prove that ultimately, the buck stops at the top!

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