At the most basic level, it makes sense for the University of New Mexico football team to reinstate running back Crusoe Gongbay and cornerback SaQwan Edwards.
After all, the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office has dismissed the rape/kidnapping case that got them arrested in April and suspended from the team.
So, in one sense, fairness dictates that these young men, now exonerated, should be allowed to pursue their athletic careers.
But since UNM’s own investigation into the incident is ongoing and given the serious concern nationwide with sexual assaults on college campuses, the reinstatements come with a calculated risk.
Given that complex playing field, the university would do well to wrap up its three-month probe and release the findings so it’s clear to everyone that UNM took this seriously, and that Gongbay and Edwards should be on the field.
The football players say their accuser consented to any activities that occurred the night in question as part of a running party, but her attorney contends the woman was given a date rape drug by someone, not necessarily the players.
Nationally, eight senators are trying to get traction for a bipartisan Campus Accountability and Safety Act that would require U.S. colleges to conduct anonymous, standardized, representative surveys about student experiences with sexual violence. Colleges have routinely killed similar state and White House proposals, saying requirements would be too onerous.
They have a point in that new layers of report generating, report reviewing and report analysis often produce less than useful results. But the estimated one in five college students who experience an attempted or completed sexual assault is a matter of serious concern.
It is worth exploring a way to get a realistic handle on sexual assault on college campuses, especially considering that the he-said/she-said nature of such allegations mean that many go unreported or unprosecuted. And it’s important to complete investigations before clearing accused students to go back to college life as usual.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.