EDITORIAL: Open letter to Marshall University

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EDITORIAL: Open letter to Marshall University

Joseph Chase Hardin, 22, appears in Cabell Circuit Judge Gregory Howard’s courtroom Wednesday,  June 12, in Huntington.

Joseph Chase Hardin, 22, appears in Cabell Circuit Judge Gregory Howard’s courtroom Wednesday, June 12, in Huntington.

Courtney Hessler | The Herald-Dispatch

Joseph Chase Hardin, 22, appears in Cabell Circuit Judge Gregory Howard’s courtroom Wednesday, June 12, in Huntington.

Courtney Hessler | The Herald-Dispatch

Courtney Hessler | The Herald-Dispatch

Joseph Chase Hardin, 22, appears in Cabell Circuit Judge Gregory Howard’s courtroom Wednesday, June 12, in Huntington.

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We are disappointed in you, Marshall University. Joseph Chase Hardin should have never been allowed to remain a student on campus after he raped another student in 2016. After sexually assaulting two more students in fall 2018, Hardin was finally expelled from the university this month. We cannot help but wonder why you let him stay. We also wonder that if he had been expelled in 2016, would those other two rapes have occurred? 

You should feel guilty, Marshall University. As students at Marshall, we certainly feel ashamed. Hardin’s vicious story has made national and even international news. That is not the kind of press we like to see, and again, we may not have seen Marshall make any negative headlines if Hardin had only been expelled sooner. 

Your female students deserve protection, Marshall University. They should not have to leave campus against their wishes because their rapists are allowed to remain. You want sons and daughters of Marshall, yet you do not keep your daughters safe. But you guarded Hardin and kept him safe. Safe enough to where he was able to rape again. If this doesn’t keep potential sons and daughters from attending our university, we do not know what will. 

Yes, it has been two weeks since your decision to expel Hardin, and you may want to move on, but we have not forgotten, nor have we forgiven. Hardin may be expelled, but how many more like him may feel like their actions have no consequences? Look at the message this has created: rape one student, and it’s okay. She’ll move away and you can continue your behavior but try not to get caught. Then we will have to expel you. It brings to mind the expression of ‘fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.’

Does this letter sound harsh, Marshall University? It is the truth, and as journalists, we know that the truth can hurt. But we cannot imagine the pain of Hardin’s victims; that pain is greater than the shame of letting a rapist be allowed to remain a student. That pain is greater than ourselves and our personal feelings. If we do not learn from our mistakes, and trust us, you have made a mistake, then we can never improve. Let’s all strive to do better.

But if it is up to us to protect our students, especially our female students, then we will gladly offer our help. After all, we are a family, and families should look out for one another. 

We will not allow the Chase Hardin situation to repeat itself. 

What to do if you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted:

Do not blame yourself.

Contact MUPD. 

Go to the hospital.

Do not blame yourself.

Speak up. 

Find your support system. 

Do not blame yourself.

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