Rebranding Did Not Solve UNCSA’s Abuse Issues
The NY Times has an excellent overview, written by Matt Stevens, of the UNCSA psychological/sexual abuse lawsuits. There’s nothing new there, in any meaningful sense, but it’s great to see serious coverage from such an outlet.
Dance Magazine earlier shared a piece by Avichai Scher which is also a solid summary of the current situation.
The coverage of this suit is already much better than the coverage of the Soderlund suit even though the piece in the Times is really the first strong national/international coverage to go beyond basic lawsuit news, of which I’m aware. Because the current suit involves so many people across departments and time periods, it may even help the press recognize that there is an even bigger story here that, I believe, goes back to the early days of the founding of NCSA.
In the earlier Christopher Soderlund case, University officials and many who wanted to keep the secrets secret, managed to create the appearance of a school whose only real problem was Kuch and Gain and they quickly got rid of them. Both press and government officials that should have known better did the least amount possible to report and/or investigate the situation at what was then North Carolina School of the Arts.
In particular, the Winston-Salem Journal’s coverage of the Soderlund suit was limited and they did not play the role that one would expect of a major regional paper covering such a trial in their home city. The Greensboro News & Record took that role. Check the coverage of the suit. It’s a glaring fail on the part of the Journal.
I spoke to a faculty member at great length a few years back, who was not willing to go on record at that time. He claimed that the Journal had covered up stories of arrests and other issues in the past going all the way back to the school’s early days.
It would be worth doing an investigation of past Journal coverage as more details emerge. Any case where a faculty member left and was then exposed as an abuser at other institutions, for example, is worth investigating for a possible Winston-Salem arrest record and lack of coverage in the Journal.
That said, Michael Hewlitt is currently covering the suit for the Journal and is doing an excellent job.
Let’s hope that journalists realize that the story is much bigger than the court case.
They didn’t see that last time and so helped leave a window open for additional abuse to occur.