Next Gen Feminista Friday: Dartmouth (and everyone else), Listen to the Protesters

“Dude, if we don’t get out of here soon we’re totally gonna get raped.”

The two guys behind me were scrambling, along with everyone else who was underage, to get out of the house when they heard the sirens of police cars.

I’m over 21. The authorities breaking up a college party is not a big deal for me.

What is a big deal:

How casually the word “rape” is dropped in conversation.

What those boys didn’t know is that my friend who was with me and heard their comment, was raped…

Twice.

This year on April 19th, during a prospective student event, current students at Dartmouth College gathered to protest against sexual assault on campus.

According to the protesters, the administration has failed time and time again to cultivate a safe environment for students in regard to sexual assault.

Basta.

…One would think.

Protesters from New York City's National Organization for Women.

Protesters from New York City’s National Organization for Women. Courtesy: Thinkprogress.org

Other students not involved with the protest, lashed out at protesters via anonymous online message boards and forums, such as BoredatBaker.com.

According to Think Progress, sexist and racist comments were made such as:

“It’s women like these who deserve to get raped.”

And:

“Sooo… what’s wrong with just not admitting LBGTQ and unappreciative minorities (everyone except Indians, AFRICANS but not african americans, asians who bust their asses off and never complain)???”

Nastassja Schmiedt, one of the student protesters, told CNN:

“I think that all of us knew what we were getting ourselves into when we decided to protest this, but I don’t think any of us expected to receive such extreme threats of death, rape, and lynching.”

Carol Folt, Interim President of the College, along with other faculty members decided to cancel classes on Wednesday, April 24th to address the protest as well as the backlash.

What is disheartening about the reaction of the administration is that they grouped together the protesters with those who threatened them.

Both groups are facing potential disciplinary action as a result of the events.

My reaction:

¿Cómo puede ser?

How can it be that the bigger problem about sexual assault on campus isn’t being isolated and corrected, without needing students to protest for awareness and justice?

I understand that a protest on a prospective student day might cast an unfavorable light on the university.

But that’s the point. Students’ concerns weren’t being addressed.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

More worrisome than the protests is the reaction of the Dartmouth administration–threatening to punish students for merely exercising their right to voice concerns about an extremely serious issue that isn’t being corrected by the people in charge. Across the country, college administrators aren’t lending support to stopping sexual assault, according to USAToday with this leadership and moral void being filled by the activism of outraged students, faculty members, and alumni who have joined forces to promote awareness on campus of federal laws concerning sexual misconduct. 

Sexual assaults are all too common on college campuses. Courtesy: Parenting Pink

Sexual assaults are all too common on college campuses. Courtesy: parentingpink.com

Sexual assault on college campuses is not to be taken lightly nor is it unique to Dartmouth College.

It happens way too often with Occidental and Swarthmore colleges in the past few weeks accused of mishandling cases of assault.

The statistics are the ultimate buzz kill:

  • 1 in 4 college women report surviving rape or attempted rape.
  • In a 2012 study by the U.S. Center for Disease Control, 19% of undergraduate women experienced attempted or completed sexual assault since entering college.

I can also attest, from personal experience, that the statistics are true.

Throughout my four years of college, I have had several friends, and have heard stories from countless acquaintances, that have had first-hand experiences with sexual assault.

Yet, the issue continues and is perpetuated by the casual nature in which young people discuss and joke about “rape” as I mentioned at the beginning of the post. “Rape culture,” as it is known, normalizes sexual violence and makes it not just OK, inevitable.

Sexual assault is never acceptable.

I stand by the Dartmouth protesters and all those across the country battling sexual assault on campuses.

I raise my voice and join theirs in saying:

¡Ya no mas!

The Wise Latina Club's Giuiliana Cortese

Washington, DC native and self-proclaimed Latina feminist Giuliana Cortese, is a senior at Georgetown University majoring in Women’s and Gender Studies and will relocate to Nashville, Tennessee for the next two years as a Teach for America corps member. When she isn’t writing, you can find her on a run, practicing yoga, museum hopping, or “thrifting.” Click here to read more about and connect with Giuliana.

Edited by: Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D.

How can we make clear to young people the seriousness of sexual assault to prevent future attacks?

Comments

  1. Christopher C. Schons says

    Wow!

    Excellent piece.

    Please tell me when you’re going to publish these things!

    Chris Schons (Dartmouth Class of 1988)

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