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.
American Council on Education
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Washington, DC, 20036