By editorial board • 

Time will tell if Linfield is on right path

David Jubb, former member of the Linfield College Board of Trustees, stands accused of groping female students on multiple occasions, first in 2017 and then again last year. The fact he was allowed to remain in a position to repeat such actions, after credible reports had surfaced, indicates a failure of the trust and safety educational institutions must ensure. 

The No. 1 recurring pattern in sexual harassment and misconduct cases is disparity in power.

Such acts, sadly, may never be eradicated. But an ongoing cultural shift can reduce the incidence dramatically. Achieving that takes open, honest discussion and victims stepping forward to report what so easily can just be internalized.

Now facing criminal charges, Jubb remains innocent until proven guilty. But the court of public opinion has already delivered its verdict. That’s because it has occurred far too many times — an older man, usually white, using influence from a position of power to cross boundaries he doesn’t believe apply to him.

Researchers note unwanted sexual advances are more often as much about, if not more, exercising control than satisfying perverse desires.

Often, that behavior is excused as a one-time situation, or blamed on alcohol, or balanced against their standing and contributions. And that seems the case here initially.

At the personal level, such as longstanding relationships forged through board service, it’s easy to issue a private reprimand, secure a promise it won’t happen again and move on. But offenders frequently lapse, opening the door to the institutionalization of their misconduct at some level.

President Miles Davis said the right things in a private teleconference address to students and faculty. He outlined steps the college is taking to create an environment in which victims are supported, thus encouraged to file reports.

He took the step of publicizing his own struggle with childhood abuse. He promised to use mistakes from the past to ensure a better future.

However, actions speak louder than words. We can’t help wondering whether Linfield is truly doing enough to protect young women from unwanted sexual attention, whether from members of the board, administration, faculty or student body.

It’s certainly not the only institution in that position. In fact, many cases around the country have proven much more egregious.

Achieving a fully secure environment on campus is no simple matter. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to happen until young lives have been changed forever.

How harshly should the institution be judged for past lapses, versus recognized for forceful remedial action? That depends on how well it delivers tomorrow on the promises made today.



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