The Equinox demands clarity for students

As difficult as it may be for the college to face the repercussions of the alleged Eugene “Gino” Vallante incidents, before the college can move on, it must as a whole address the underlying climate that permitted Vallante’s alleged behavior in the first place.

To The Equinox, it appears the college considers maintaining its public image as important as the well-being of its students. The Equinox believes if the college first assures the well-being of its students, then the reputation of the college will follow suit. The college needs to be proactive rather than reactive in preparing its students to resist inappropriate behavior by a person of authority over the student.

First, the college must address making certain students know where and whom to turn to when they find themselves in a situation where a person of authority is acting inappropriately.

Photo Illustration by Brian Cantore / Photo Editor and Julie Conlon / Managing Executive Editor

Photo Illustration by Brian Cantore / Photo Editor and
Julie Conlon / Managing Executive Editor

A former basketball player and Keene State College alumnus said that in 2010, he wrote a letter with other members of the basketball team with the intention of addressing the inappropriate behavior of Vallante to students. The alumnus stated the letter was never sent because the players did not know whom to send it to.

According to the KSC policy featured on the college website, Vallante would be accused of allegedly sexually harassing students and of stalking, based on multiple student allegations.

But on the KSC website, if anyone wants to report sexual harassment, “intake officers” are listed in the form of a link, leading to an email address. Students: if someone of authority sexually harassed you, would you be comfortable sending something as sensitive as this through an email to an unnamed person whose website title is “intake officer”?

The Equinox asks another question: Was there a climate among the basketball team where students felt they could not go to the Counseling Center? The college seems to orient students well on what to do in peer harassment. During freshman orientation, an entire program titled No Zebras, No Excuses is dedicated to informing incoming students about how to handle inappropriate behavior from peers. What is left out is what students should do if a figure of authority engages in that kind of behavior.

This information should be easy, clear and common for students to refer to. It should be as easily understood by students as the term “DC” for the Zorn Dining Commons, or be as easy to find as Appian Way.

Even during The Equinox’s interviewing process, students were hesitant to say the word “penis” when describing alleged conversations they said they had with Vallante. How would a student then feel trying to repeat this word in writing to an authority figure they’ve never met?

As unpleasant as it is for The Equinox to report on this, the college cannot heal until there is a clear and public resolution provided to the entire student body. KSC owes its students more clarity than it has provided. Students deserve more than an email and a Facebook announcement from the college following the termination of an employee on the basis of alleged misconduct.

Furthermore, if The Equinox is the voice of the student body, how can it provide answers to its KSC constituents when those in a position to provide answers all the way from the president, to the athletic director and the basketball coach, among others, respond to queries with no comment and refer all questions to the manager of media relations?

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