Discourse / Editorials / April 17, 2008

Thoughts from the Embers: It’s time to change the Grievance Panel

It has been two years since the Grievance Panel was the talk of the campus, with faculty and student groups demanding change to this important judicial process that has been unable to earn the trust of the student body. Suggestions for reform have gone as far as recommending it should be disbanded, while others, like Gamble in her report, want to make changes to the potentially positive system we have now. Since 2006, panel members have been working to improve the system, and Gamble has been finishing her research.

One thing we can all agree on is that we wanted President Taylor to form a task force charged with fixing the Grievance Panel in 2006, and we still want it now. This is one of the demands SASS released this week, and we demand the same thing. There needs to be a task force that forms and meets at least once before the term ends. This seems reasonable, since it has been two years since we first asked for it, and now there is a solid base of research to start from.

It is important that this happens this term because there is no reason for us to wait for history to repeat itself. When the panel was reformed in 1993, it was in response to a sexual assault case that was not handled well under the old model. When changes were again demanded in 2006, it was in response to a series of sexual assault cases that were not handled well. If Taylor puts this off any longer fully knowing that this is a problem, then he is not doing his job and is not defending the safety of Knox students.

Pay attention

Speaking of sweeping things under the rug, Knox women lost their access to cheap reproductive health care last year and, largely, didn’t even notice. When the administration denied ever knowing they’d made a contract with Family Planning, much less canceling it, they pulled a classic Knox move: keeping quiet about something important and hoping we’ll eventually forget about it, never bothering to take them to task.

We can learn something from this about defending our own safety. It is becoming increasingly clear that the Knox administration might not volunteer vital information, public health concern or not, if it poses any kind of public relations risk or inconvenience. Therefore, we have to make them. We need to put in the effort to stay on top of uncomfortable issues like sexual health and sexual assault. It is the responsibility of any good citizen to stay informed, especially if the people who hold all the cards would rather you didn’t. Keep on your toes, people. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

TKS Staff

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