Letter unfair to Lane
I am "appalled" at Amy Dearborn's response to the story about Professor Ann Lane. [Mail, May 15, "Lane's honor attack lame" which begins, "I was appalled...] (http://www.readthehook.com/93473/letter-lanes-honor-attack-lame).
She is entitled to her opinion about plagiarism, but she is wrong about one issue: The University Judiciary Committee does not hear sexual assault cases, and it has not done so for nearly two decades. Sexual assault cases are heard by the Sexual Assault Board, a body composed of faculty, administrators, and students.
I also believe that it is important to point out that while the committee has found several students guilty of sexual assault offenses, as far as anyone knows, no UVA students have ever been expelled from the University for rape or sexual assault.
As I believe Ann Lane was trying to say, there are rapists, harassers, and other violent assailants attending Mr. Jefferson's hallowed University without any fear of punishment because they know they can get away with it. This is the double standard to which Lane referred when she questioned how it was possible to expel someone for cheating on a test yet allow violent offenders to remain on Grounds. (If Ms. Dearborn questions this, she can contact the University herself, because results of sexual assault hearings are not protected under the federal laws that keep student records confidential.)
This is partly due to the difficulty of getting evidence that satisfies the "clear and convincing" standard of proof in acquaintance sexual assault cases. But it is also due to a persistent doubt about the veracity of survivors' testimony that pervades our culture. Members of the University community, as well-informed and well-meaning as they may be (they are trained to hear these cases), are no less influenced by the cultural and social norms that give men's words greater power than women's. So, Ann Lane was more on point in her comments about the University's judicial system than Ms. Dearborn. So much for accuracy.
Finally, I feel that is important to say that Ann Lane is a highly respected historian who has not only taught thousands of students to hone their critical thinking skills, but she has ably directed the Women's Studies Program (now Studies in Women and Gender) that has inspired many to enter into work that makes this world a better place for all people, not only women. The productive lives of alumni are far more eloquent testimony to this professor's legacy than an error in judgment made early in her academic career.
Sexual Assault Education Coordinator, UVA