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On anonymity

Claire Wang’s “Title IX doesn’t cover emotional abuse. What happens when student organizations are left to manage it on their own?” details the student organization Common Origin’s response to alleged emotional abuse between two of its members. The article’s staggering amount of detail undermines any pretense of anonymity and implicitly invites readers to judge for themselves whether the allegations constitute emotional abuse.

Wang purports to hide the identities of those involved in the alleged emotional abuse by assigning pseudonyms, Matthew for the accuser and James for the accused. However, detailing the genders, graduation years, officer status, and majors [and a flurry of other details] of both Matthew and James renders this moot. It is unethical and irresponsible for the Daily to promise anonymity but then publish extensive amounts of personally identifiable information. As the article acknowledges, revealing a source’s identity could lead to possible retaliation or safety concerns.

From the title, the focus of the article seems to be on how Common Origins handled the alleged emotional abuse. Why then, does the article include seemingly every interaction between James and Matthew from 2016 to the present day? In including details such as their first meeting at a party at Terra and the oral sex performed on James by Matthew, Wang implicitly invites the reader to cast judgement on whether the alleged actions constitute emotional abuse. Allegations of abuse should not be taken lightly and certainly should not be tabloid fodder. Unfortunately, the Title IX office does not handle incidents of emotional abuse, but it is not the Daily’s responsibility nor the responsibility of its readers to cast judgement on this situation.

I am honestly aghast that this article was published. The Stanford Daily should retract the article and revise its internal policies on reporting allegations of abuse and handling anonymous sources.

— Amanda Spyropoulos, B.S. Mechanical Engineering ’19, M.S. Computer Science ’20

Contact Amanda at aspyropo ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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