UConn's approach to sexual misconduct could surely use a deep legislative look.
Seven current and former UConn students are filing a federal complaint against the university for, they say, failing to protect them from sexual harassment and assault. Some of the complainants say they were treated dismissively by authorities.
The reaction from the university ought to be, "We'll do whatever we can to address this." Its president, however, went into defensive mode Wednesday, professing astonishment at the allegations — not the most sensitive approach. Is that what a parent with a daughter on campus wants to hear?
President Susan Herbst made many thoughtful points in a long statement Wednesday. But to characterize the charges of institutional indifference as "astonishingly misguided and demonstrably untrue" is unwise. It appears that one student was, in fact, correct that she wasn't notified when her alleged assailant was allowed back on campus.
Ms. Herbst's desire to defend the university and to underscore that UConn takes allegations seriously is understandable. But her words could also be perceived as dismissive — the very attitude women facing these situations fear. The university looks like it's putting up its fists when it should be opening its arms.
Meanwhile, Republican leaders are calling for legislative hearings on how UConn handles complaints. Everyone is welcoming the hearings, including Ms. Herbst and Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
UConn rightly touts the progress it's made on educating students about sexual violence, such as its website, http://www.sexualviolence.uconn.edu, and the mandatory training that employees receive.
But a statewide discussion is still needed— about why, for example, UConn students think it's OK to cheer when the infamous "rape trail" is mentioned, as at a recent concert.
The discussion shouldn't only be about UConn. Sexual misconduct is every college's problem. Yale issues frequent reports on complaints "to engage the community in efforts to prevent it." So should all campuses in Connecticut.