Accusations futile without focus

Dear Editor,

I’ve watched in recent weeks as this campus has become divided by the issue over the Michael Powell case. Some students believe that it is wrong that The Northerner put his picture in the paper. Others believe it was a racially-motivated move. Some think he’s guilty, others think he’s not. Overall, however, no one has kept quiet about it.

So I won’t either.

On the issue of whether or not The Northerner should have run his picture, I would just like to say that the paper was within every right to do what they did. I have friends on this campus, good friends, some of whom are female. I would not want them to not know who to watch out for to protect themselves from an act like an alleged rape. Rape is a disgusting, deplorable act that affects the victim, their family and those close to them.

Since this whole ordeal began a month ago, I’ve followed it closely. I’m in two race and gender courses this semester, and both have caused me to be more sensitive on racial issues. So it has been with great interest that I have followed the developments of this case. Watching people talk about it around campus and reading about it has made me realize a couple of things: First, everyone thinks they know what happened, and second, everything everyone thinks they know is crap.

Unless you are some type of voyeuristic pervert, only two people should really, honestly know what happened that night: the accused and his accuser. No one else has any right to go around saying that one thing or another did happen.

That being said, let me speak on another point. The great beauty of our country is that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. That is why democracy and freedom are so truly great. We all have the right to say what we feel without threat of persecution for saying it. I don’t begrudge the people who have commented in the paper these past weeks about what has gone on. While I don’t agree with everything that Kevin Malay said in his first article, I can respect his viewpoint and try to understand where he is coming from. Will Johnson, Allen Long and Eric Smith also gained my respect for sticking by their beliefs and voicing what they felt.

The situation boils down to this, ladies and gentlemen: Is Michael Powell guilty? That is the main issue here, and nothing else. A young lady has accused him of raping her. I would like to ask all of you readers out there to put yourself into the shoes of this young woman and Powell. Try to imagine how it feels to be on the receiving end of the act and the accusation. Some out there that read this may have dealt with this before firsthand, or maybe through friends and family. Those people should be able to remember how it felt.

Let’s all do ourselves a favor and leave the petty arguments, accusation and in-fighting BS at the door and concentrate on guilt and accountability. If Powell is guilty, then he deserves expulsion, jail-time or whatever punishment the legal bodies deem necessary. Now on the other hand, if he is not guilty and has been falsely accused, then his accuser should be ashamed of herself for putting him through all of this, which I think is a possibility not too many people have thought about.

Let’s focus on the main points here people, and not accuse people of things that we know nothing about. It might make things easier.

Sean Dressman Junior, journalism