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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Editorial: University’s post-Sasha steps aren’t convincing

An “Outside the Lines” story prompted an investigation into the incident.

April 23, 2014

Editorials represent the majority opinion of The Maneater editorial board.

In January, we said it was too early to place blame in Sasha Menu Courey’s story. The time to blame has come.

Menu Courey was an MU swimmer in 2010-11. After her alleged rape in February 2010, Menu Courey committed suicide in June 2011. Before her death, Menu Courey confided in a Mizzou Athletics employee that she was suicidal, but Mizzou Athletics and the university did not get involved. In January 2014, ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” picked up the story, bringing light to an event that had long been kept in the shadows.

In the wake of the media storm that followed, the UM System decided to hire a law firm, Dowd Bennett, LLC, to look into the incident. At a recent Board of Curators meeting, the firm presented the results and determined that MU should have acted with the information that they had. MU didn’t have the right Title IX policies in place to properly handle the incident. Following the results, UM System President Tim Wolfe has ordered an assessment of all campus mental health and sexual assault.

Firstly, we’re glad the university is taking this seriously. The revelation of Menu Courey’s incident left the MU community reeling. It’s only right that MU and Mizzou Athletics take a look into what went wrong.

We also like that all resources and centers for sexual assault and mental health are being examined. The issues of rape and suicide affect all students, not just student athletes. It’s important that expanding the resources already on campus, such as the Student Health Center and Counseling Center, will be considered. These outlets are fairly small and could use an upgrade.

We’re pleased you invested in an investigation, but we’re sad to see a main factor left out: what the university could have done to prevent the incident. There should have been some investigation into what the university and Mizzou Athletics could have done before Menu Courey’s death, especially since she confided in a Mizzou Athletics employee.

That being said, it’s come to our attention that you, MU, didn’t look into said incident until “Outside the Lines” called you out. The current investigation is merely in response to bad press. What if they hadn’t broken the news? Most likely, the Menu Courey case’s skeleton would still be sitting in a dusty closet.

If you’ve got more of these, now’s the time to clean out your dust bunnies. Don’t wait until the next big expose. Transparency about what’s been going on behind the closed doors of Mizzou Athletics — and the university at large — will be key moving forward.

This isn’t about good PR. We know you’re sorry this happened and you’re improving for the future, but substantial strides need to be made to prove your commitment to preventing future incidents like Menu Courey’s.

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