A response to the recent CNA article about FUS and Title IX
Catholic News Agency released an article on April 25, 2018 by reporter Mary Rezac, concerning recently accused Franciscan University of Steubenville and their sexual assault policies, along with not-so-subtle accusations regarding the reporter who broke the FUS story to the National Catholic Reporter, Jenn Morson.
Dinah’s Voice seeks the empowerment of students on Catholic campuses regarding sexual violence and to work with administrators to make their policies safer for those students. In that light, we applaud FUS for improving its policies in recent years but, given that some of the stories were more recent than that, including a victim from 2017 who was incidentally left out of Ms. Rezac’s original article (included in a later clarification), it’s possible that there is still room for improvement. We are very hopeful that FUS will examine its policies and its commitment to student safety to make the necessary changes.
However, Ms. Rezac quite obviously sought to undermine Ms. Morson’s work and motives, claiming that Ms. Morson received grant money that ultimately traced back to George Soros. Ms. Rezac also notes that the NCR piece written by Heidi Schlumpf about Christendom College was also a recipient of such a grant, and we can only assume she also means to imply that Ms. Schlumpf or the Christendom Advocacy & Support Coalition were aware of or motivated by this grant, which is not the case.
If Ms. Rezac had been so inclined to reach out to her fellow journalist prior to publication, she would have learned that not only had Ms. Morson been working on this research for four months, it wasn’t until after she submitted the article that the grant offer was made to the editor at NCR. Even beyond that, the grant money that Ms. Morson did receive is being donated and she is not profiting from it. Subsequent to publication, Ms. Morson reached out to CNA and they updated the article to reflect that she had no knowledge of the grant until after she had filed.
We are also inclined to remind Ms. Rezac that journalists receiving money for writing articles is not out of the ordinary, whereas victims receive nothing for coming forward and their advocates equally lack financial compensation. Conversely, the administrations of these academic institutions do get paid and do have an interest in discrediting those who expose their faults.
The start of Ms. Rezac’s article was dedicated to who funded the grant and their leadership, details which are completely irrelevant when it comes to sexual assault and college policies. A good portion of the article defended FUS and their Catholic approach to Title IX. As for the actual victims and their Title IX complaints, a mere three paragraphs glossed over the facts of their assaults and the college’s mishandling of the reported cases. This is spurious and problematic journalism at best, and as such, we at Dinah’s Voice and the Christendom Advocacy & Support Coalition strongly condemn it, as we condemn all organizations that minimize or cover up allegations of sexual abuse or the failures of academic institutions to protect their students appropriately with Title IX.