Our Lady of the Lake University's president on Thursday said the school had been wrong to block users from its Twitter account after they made online sexual abuse accusations about current and former students at the school.
"I have been made aware of accusations of sexual assault against current and former OLLU students that were shared on Twitter," university President Diane E. Melby said in the statement
posted Thursday afternoon. "I take this very seriously. Violence and abuse are against everything OLLU stands for."
The statement continued: "I am also aware that tweets were blocked on the official OLLU Twitter account. The blocking of tweets was wrong. The block was removed this morning. It is against our policies and training and it is being dealt with now."
The school also directly apologized
to students via Twitter.
In her statement, Melby added that the university and its security staff have opened up inquiries into accusations tweeted by students. The school has also set up a confidential conversation for Monday, June 8 at 6:30 p.m. to let students discuss their concerns and learn how to file complaints.
The Twitter controversy began Tuesday when an anonymous account @SASCUM1
went live, announcing itself as a "platform for women and men who have been assaulted" to discuss their experiences and name their abusers.
On Wednesday, the account posted a thread of screenshots of direct messages from anonymous individuals accusing an OLLU student of multiple incidences of sexual assault. In response, other OLLU students on Twitter began sharing their own alleged experiences with the accused assailant, calling him by name.
The @SASCUM1 account has since begun blanking out names of accused abusers in its tweets. Even so, some students who spoke up on its threads discovered that OLLU had blocked them from its account.
Eventually, the university unblocked the accounts in question, saying they'd been mistaken for spam.
"We received messages with very similar language about different people so we incorrectly thought these accounts were spam," OLLU tweeted. "All have been unblocked. All allegations are taken seriously, and OLLU Police and the Title IX office have opened cases based on these tweets."
Even so, some users didn't buy the spam defense.
"Even if they're similar messages about different people, why would they be considered spam?" @pris__killah asked. "Shouldn't ALL allegations be taken seriously?"
"When OLLU says they thought the VICTIMS account was SPAM, so they blocked. I MUST LAUGH," @lilslicknic tweeted.
"I've never been so disrespected," @wavybxb, one of the blocked users, replied.
OLLU spokeswoman Anne Gomez said the university is asking for anyone with firsthand knowledge of the assault accusations to come forward and share it to aid in the investigations. She added that university officials understand the reluctance victims often feel about reporting sexual misconduct.
For any students who need support, Gomez said the university's OLLU Cares office offers confidential advisors to help navigate these situations, whether it's filing a complaint, seeking counseling or anything else for which they need support. The office is available via email at email@example.com
Stay on top of San Antonio news and views. Sign up for our Weekly Headlines Newsletter.