Indiana Daily Student

Community ‘not surprised’ by lack of IU public response after misconduct investigation

<p>The Jacobs School of Music East Studio Building is seen March 1, 2022, on the corner of Third Street and Eagleson Avenue. Over a month since the Indiana Daily Student released an investigation into how the university handled a sexual misconduct case, neither the music school or IU have released a public statement about the situation.</p>

The Jacobs School of Music East Studio Building is seen March 1, 2022, on the corner of Third Street and Eagleson Avenue. Over a month since the Indiana Daily Student released an investigation into how the university handled a sexual misconduct case, neither the music school or IU have released a public statement about the situation.

Editor’s Note: This story includes mention of sexual violence.

UPDATE: The Jacobs School of Music released an internal statement to students and faculty April 1 after protest flyers were defaced with offensive writing.

Neither IU nor the Jacobs School of Music has publicly addressed the Indiana Daily Student investigation detailing how the university dealt with a sexual misconduct case. 

Now, the local community is asking why a statement has not been made regarding the contents of the “Dissonance in due process” investigation or sexual assault on campus. 

The investigation, published Jan. 27, takes an in-depth look into how IU music student Chris Parker was found responsible for sexual assault by IU, violated his resulting suspension and was readmitted in 2020. According to a document obtained by the IDS, if Parker violated his suspension he should have been expelled or received police charges, or both. Neither happened, and his continued involvement in the Bloomington and IU jazz community has left students feeling unheard and unsafe.

IU and Jacobs did not respond for comment about the lack of a public statement.

Related: [After 'Dissonance in due process': Where are we now?]

“If they actually say something about it, that they need to acknowledge what happened, I honestly don't know if there is a good enough answer that they could give for why Chris is back in school,” Shailey Ostlund said.

Ostlund spoke out in the IDS investigation as the student who reported Parker to IU after he sexually assaulted her. She said she feels the university is trying to suppress conversation about her case and other sexual assaults, but she is not surprised. Their refusal to respond is just as telling, she said.

“I really don't think that the university has any sort of a moral high ground here,” Ostlund said. “In their silence, they're admitting that as well.”

This inaction continues to create an environment where survivors of sexual assault feel they can’t speak up and are not being heard, Ostlund said. This not only affects those involved in this investigation but other survivors, especially those who are not comfortable speaking out or reporting their abuser, she said. 

Now is the time for the university to speak out on issues of sexual assault, Ostlund said. With current public discourse making it more commonplace to talk about the issue, she said IU should have no problem coming forward and supporting survivors of sexual assault.

She said no university officials have reached out to Ostlund personally since the story was published, but she didn’t think anyone would. She said she is open to speaking about why her case transpired in the way it did and the pain the system caused her. 

Related: [IU’s denial of sexual assault record access violates public access laws, state says]

Community organization Shatter the Silence said in a statement to the IDS they too are not surprised about the absence of a statement from IU and response from IU administration. The local social justice organization, which advocates for survivors of sexual assault, removed themselves as an IU student group after complications stemming from a critical open letter about the topic. 

“IU’s inaction in making a public statement, re-evaluating Parker’s case, nor changing the system that allowed Parker back on IU’s campus is a prime example of what the IU community means when we say IU does ‘nothing,’” the organization said in the statement. 

Students in the Jacobs community are also questioning why more hasn’t been done to publicly address the findings of the investigation. 

Internally, the music school held two town halls for students. The first was directed toward the Jazz Studies department, but those students felt faculty and administration were not listening to them. The second took place the night of Feb. 24 and was put on by the Jacobs Health & Wellness Committee. At the over two-hour town hall, students discussed with faculty and IU officials concerns and questions stemming from the case but in a broader context.

Related: [Dissonance in due process]

Jacobs masters student Emma Goulet, a student member of the committee, said she was happy to see a strong student turnout. The larger Jacobs community has not discussed this issue as much as she’d like, she said, as it has been most heavily discussed in the jazz program.

However, she too said she doesn’t understand why a statement hasn’t been made about the handling of the case. She said the faculty do not hold any kind of power and cannot do more than holding town halls and speaking with students broadly on the matter. The people who do, who aren’t speaking on this, are those in IU’s administration, she said.

“I just feel like someone's responsible for OK’ing Chris Parker back on campus,” she said. “I want to know who that is.”

Goulet said she doesn’t believe there will be a larger university response at this point, and the burden of responding has fallen on her committee, which she says is not their function.

“It kind of takes away the responsibility on the administration to actually do something,” she said. “They're the ones that can actually do something.”

This situation makes Goulet feel helpless, but she said she is encouraged by the number of people who came to the town hall to contribute to the conversation. Her advocacy on this issue will not stop, she said. 

“This is just the beginning.”

A list of resources is available here if you or someone you know has experienced sexual harassment or abuse.

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