Recently, Saint Louis University was rocked by the news that three young women went to local hospitals to report they had been sexually assaulted by some of the university’s student-athletes. According to the women, the assaults occurred at an on-campus apartment.
University administration immediately responded to the reports. University President Fred Pestello told local media, “First, I want to say how deeply troubled I am by these allegations, which involve behavior that runs counter to our mission and values… SLU seeks to foster a safe and supportive atmosphere where students, faculty, clinicians, and staff can flourish in an inclusive environment that is free from harassment and harm. Sexual assault, misconduct, and harassment of any kind have no place at our University.”
A fast public response was necessary, given that the story was out just as fast. Police were called to the hospital. They took statements from the victims and told the administration, who sent out a campus-wide notice. Students on smartphones took it from there.
As of this writing, the investigation is ongoing, and the players involved have not been named. Nor have the complaints been corroborated. What the media does know, is that the alleged assaulters were on the University basketball program, which just began preseason practices. Since the news broke, practices have been closed to the media, and members of the team are tight-lipped about the incident.
Though the alleged assaults happened back in late September, no news has come out as to whether or not any charges will be forthcoming. That decision – or lack of decision – has a lot of people talking, and the narrative forming doesn’t make SLU look very good.
This dynamic is one of the more difficult realities of today’s media marketplace. Because of the immediacy of the communication – stories get out as fast as students can tweet them or post them on Instagram – it’s difficult for faculty, staff or administrators to keep up.
Once the allegations get out, citizen reporters and websites get in contact with students, and the story gains a level of legitimacy…even if there are precious few facts that have actually been confirmed. Speculation becomes rumor … becomes the story becomes “The Story.”
When that happens, officials are faced with two major PR problems. One, their official findings will invariably not match the story as it morphs from rumor into speculation. And, two, the actual facts will come out much slower than people will want them, which leads to another level of speculation.
Eventually, the real story will come out. Until then, the administration at SLU has a steep hill to climb.
Investors rage at Fox “permissive” culture The sexual harassment scandals that rocked Fox News are not going away anytime soon. Neither the downfall of Roger Ailes nor the career damage to Bill O’Reilly could assuage the anger of the consumer marketplace or the fallout from advertisers fleeing the network.
After the dismissal of O’Reilly and the failed boycott of Sean Hannity, it looked for a time like the heat was moving off Fox. Not so fast. The investors hadn’t yet had their say. And, now that they’re talking, things are not getting any easier for the powers that be at Fox News.
According to CNN, CtW Investment Group is “pressuring 21st Century Fox to add more women to its board…” First on the agenda of this expected new board? Conduct a “thorough review” of company culture.
In a letter sent to Fox, which was printed, in part, by CNN and other media outlets, CtW said: “The magnitude of the sexual and racial harassment crisis demonstrates a tone at the top that is permissive of unethical behavior…”
Subsequent to that missive, CtW is saying they believe the company needs an overhaul at the top, including the resignation of director Roderick Eddington. “He clearly failed in his risk oversight responsibilities as demonstrated by significant financial settlements of sexual harassment allegations that occurred prior to 2016…”
When a company with “substantial” investments in its holdings goes on the record demanding this kind of overhaul, it puts the company in a precarious position. If they clean house at the top, they have to, at least tacitly, agree to some or all of the allegations motivating the demands.
If they don’t agree, the company looks, to the public, like it condones the alleged behavior, which in addition to sexual harassment, includes cover-ups and other systemic problems with leadership relating to employees. Meanwhile, the US Department of Justice continues its investigation into the alleged misconduct.
Whatever the company decides to do, there are currently a lot of eyes watching, waiting to spread the news, and add their spin to the message.
Some believe Fox telegraphed their hopes that they can put all this quickly behind them when they invited Bill O’Reilly back to chat with Sean Hannity about his new book. Others say that was nothing more than a prominent author stopping by on his book tour.
Regardless of who interpreted that move correctly, Fox has yet to make a public move in response to the investors’ challenge, nor has the company made any more leadership moves since the letter was made public.