Notre Dame glosses over the real victim

OPINION

  • Notre Dame has been embroiled in its share of scandals in the past few years.
Notre Dame has been embroiled in its share of scandals in the past few years. (Matt Cashore/US Presswire )
January 17, 2013|By Matt Lindner | For RedEye

At least the skeleton that came tumbling out of Notre Dame's closet wasn't a real one this time.

If the scandal surrounding Manti Te'o's fake girlfriend has taught us anything, it's that we need to seriously re-evaluate how we as a society assign the label of "victim."

Te'o is not a victim. Northbrook's Lizzy Seeberg, on the other hand, was very much a victim.

We cannot, as a society, afford to forget this.

If Seeberg's name doesn't sound familiar, it's because Notre Dame would rather you not know her. Seeberg is the St. Mary's College student who killed herself 10 days after she was reportedly sexually assaulted in a Notre Dame dorm room by a Fighting Irish football player and nine days after she told Notre Dame police about the incident. According to Tribune reports, before her death, Seeberg reportedly received intimidating text messages warning her about "messing with" the football program.

It took two weeks for Notre Dame police to interview the player who allegedly assaulted Seeberg. It took considerably less time for the university to respond to the allegations against Te'o.

This is patently absurd.

The player who allegedly assaulted Seeberg reportedly faced no disciplinary action. Charges have never been filed in the incident and the player was never identified. His life has gone on while Seeberg's … well, hers did not.

At the time of her death, Notre Dame issued a statement saying things would be handled internally and institutionally. The very day reports surfaced about Te'o's fake girlfriend, the school held a news conference. Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick broke down in tears over the idea of his star player being duped by an imaginary girlfriend.

According to the transcript of Wednesday's news conference, he did not once acknowledge Seeberg or her case, largely because nobody bothered to ask.

Notre Dame has done more to acknowledge the death of a fake woman in a month than it did the sexual assault and subsequent suicide of a real one in nearly three years. The culture of hero worship on college campuses across the country prevails again.

As someone who has two younger sisters, this makes me furious. It should do the same for you.

Te'o is not a victim. He'll live to collect an NFL paycheck after this storm blows over.

Lizzy Seeberg should be so lucky.

Matt Lindner is a RedEye special contributor.

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