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News Briefs

August 3, 2003

Gwenne Culpepper, University Marketing & Public Relations, (319) 273-2761

Justice vs. freedom of the press

The judge in the Kobe Bryant case has threatened reporters who dare print the name of the alleged victim, saying he won't allow them into the courtroom. Media outlets have cried foul, and are suing for the right to use the young woman's name. Julie Thompson, sexual/substance abuse coordinator at UNI, says there are very good reasons for keeping secret the names of rape victims while an investigation is pending. 'Once the name is revealed, victims are often harassed or stalked. And there's still a great deal of shame and humiliation involved with a sexual assault. Coming forward in the first place is very difficult, even when the name is shielded. Of course, it shouldn't be that way -- the shame should be on the one who committed the assault.'

Thompson says society has a long way to go in helping victims feel less shame about an assault. But she has some ideas about what needs to be changed. 'Look at the language we use when talking about a sexual assault; it's passive. We say 'she was raped' and not 'he raped her.' We have to stop asking questions that give the implication the victim is responsible. And we also have to let go of the idea that it couldn't have been rape if the involved parties knew one another.'


Julie Thompson, sexual/substance abuse coordinator, (319) 989-2061,

Gwenne Culpepper, University Marketing & Public Relations, (319) 273-2761


UNI professor says voting is a choice

The 38th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is Wednesday, Aug. 6. The act was passed to ensure access to the ballot for all citizens, but statistics show that a large portion of today's U.S. population simply does not vote. That's not necessarily a bad thing, says Tom Rice, head of UNI's Department of Political Science. He says it's important for children to learn about the democratic process, and to understand that they have the right to vote. But demanding that everyone vote doesn't help the democratic process and could, says Rice, hinder it. 'What you end up with is a large number of votes from people who don't understand the issues or the candidates,' he explains. 'I'm not sure that's what we want.''


Tom Rice, head, Department of Political Science, 218-732-8335,,

Gwenne Culpepper, University Marketing & Public Relations, (319) 273-2761


Watergate anniversary

On Aug. 8, 1974, Richard Nixon became the first U.S. president to resign from office. Plagued by the Watergate scandal, Nixon was facing imminent impeachment and possible removal from office. It was a turbulent time, but John Johnson, professor of history, said some good things emerged from what was probably the greatest political scandal in American history. 'In the long run, the rule of law triumphed. The Constitution prevailed. We had a governmental change without upheaval. Initial American anger and cynicism over Richard Nixon's actions and statements have receded in the last generation, and the accomplishments and shortcomings of the Nixon administration can now be seen in a broader historical perspective.'

In 1974, Johnson was critical of President Gerald Ford's pardon of Nixon. Now he believes the pardon was a wise course of action, sparing the country further trauma from Watergate. 'I think President Ford was right: It was time for us to stop wallowing in Watergate; the country needed to get on with other business.'


John Johnson, professor of history, (319) 273-2097, 277-7130,

Gwenne Culpepper, University Marketing & Public Relations