Letter to the Editor: From the American Council on Education

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June 8, 2014, 10:06 a.m.

Dear Ed­it­or,

Your mis­lead­ing art­icle of June 5 about the edu­ca­tion­al we­bin­ar on con­gres­sion­al in­vest­ig­a­tions presen­ted to mem­bers of the Amer­ic­an Coun­cil on Edu­ca­tion twis­ted the facts and ad­op­ted a sen­sa­tion­al ap­proach over fair and ac­cur­ate re­port­ing.

Your ini­tial head­line and lead sen­tence, changed after our com­plaint, charged in­ac­cur­ately that the we­bin­ar was de­signed to dis­cour­age par­ti­cip­a­tion in a sur­vey about cam­pus sexu­al as­sault sent to col­leges and uni­versit­ies by Sen. Claire Mc­Caskill. The story re­mained in­ac­cur­ate and un­fair with its second head­line, too, be­cause it still sug­ges­ted that the pur­pose of the we­bin­ar was to dis­suade par­ti­cip­at­ing col­leges and uni­versit­ies from re­spond­ing to the sur­vey.

At no time in the we­bin­ar did the presenters ad­vise listen­ers not to re­spond to the sur­vey. In fact, as we have as­sured Sen. Mc­Caskill, we­bin­ar par­ti­cipants were strongly en­cour­aged to re­spond, and to do so care­fully and thought­fully.

Nor was the we­bin­ar de­signed to tell col­leges and uni­versit­ies what their sur­vey re­sponses should be. The pur­pose of the we­bin­ar was to give gen­er­al in­form­a­tion about the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing an of­fi­cial con­gres­sion­al in­quiry and con­gres­sion­al in­vest­ig­a­tions, which was new for most col­leges and uni­versit­ies. In ad­di­tion, Cov­ing­ton & Burl­ing, the law firm that pre­pared the we­bin­ar present­a­tion ma­ter­i­als and con­duc­ted the we­bin­ar free of charge, has giv­en the sim­il­ar present­a­tion nu­mer­ous times.

The sen­at­or ini­tially asked for the we­bin­ar present­a­tion ma­ter­i­als plus the names of the at­tendees who viewed the we­bin­ar. When the sen­at­or dropped the re­quest for our mem­bers’ names, we asked the law firm for per­mis­sion to re­lease its ma­ter­i­als and then did so.

ACE and its mem­bers re­cog­nize the ser­i­ous­ness and com­plex­ity of ad­dress­ing in­cid­ents of sexu­al as­sault. We have offered the sen­at­or sev­er­al av­en­ues to bring her mes­sage to our mem­bers and look for­ward to work­ing with her on this grave so­ci­et­al prob­lem.

Ada Meloy

Gen­er­al Coun­sel

Amer­ic­an Coun­cil on Edu­ca­tion

One Dupont Circle.

Wash­ing­ton, DC, 20036

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