Iowa President Reveals She Was Assaulted as Undergrad

February 28, 2014

The University of Iowa is among many colleges and universities currently facing criticism over the way they respond to allegations of sexual assault on campus. On Thursday, President Sally Mason spoke at an open forum on the topic and spoke about her personal experience as an undergraduate at the University of Kentucky in 1970, The Iowa City Press-Citizen reported. She said that a man in a trench coat grabbed her breast, and that she didn't know what to do, and felt unable to tell even her parents out of fear that they would insist she come home. “I never want a young woman on this campus ever in her life not to know where to go if something like that happens to them,” she said.

Mason has been facing personal criticism at Iowa over a quote in an interview with the student newspaper, The Daily Iowan, last week. In the interview, Mason said, “I’m not pleased that we have sexual assaults, obviously. The goal would be to end that, to never have another sexual assault. That’s probably not a realistic goal just given human nature, and that’s unfortunate, but the more we understand about it, the better we are at trying to handle it and help people get through these difficult situations.”

Critics -- some of whom formed a group called Not in My Nature -- have said that the quote suggests that sexual assaults are a normal part of human nature. Mason has issued an apology for the quote, writing: "Several members of our campus community have let me know that my remarks on sexual assault printed last week in The Daily Iowan were hurtful. I did not intend them to be, and I am sorry for the pain my words caused."

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