The topic of campus rape has been an uncharacteristically public one in 2016, especially after Brock Turner, a former Stanford student who raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster on the school’s campus, was handed a six-month jail sentence that eventually became three. It doesn’t take a genius to understand why colleges (especially elite colleges funded by rich parents’ money) so frequently mishandle victim’s claims of rape, but many people are starting to demand change.
Earlier this year, we read testimony from Brock Turner’s anonymous victim, a letter that spread far and wide. And now, another anonymous victim has come forward, in her college’s very own paper, The Crimson, to explain how Harvard blatantly mishandled her rape.
The morning after my attack, I woke in the room of a close friend shaken and hollow. I refused to change or shower, because I knew a rape kit was not only imminent but necessary. After trudging back to my dorm, I immediately went to my proctor, and he called health services. The news was shocking.
Harvard University Health Services didn’t provide rape kits.
It didn’t fully hit me then—I was far too numb. But later, after having to get an Uber to a hospital in the city and waiting three hours for the specialized nurse to arrive, the anger came. College campuses are notorious for their high instances of rape and sexual assault. Yet my university, the greatest and wealthiest in the world, could not even provide me a rape kit. I could not go to the health center that I was comfortable with. I was referred to an enormous, foreign hospital across the city feeling even more scared and vulnerable than I had before. It still shocks me.
The piece is titled, “It’s Me, One of Your Statistics,” and it goes on to describe how in a meeting after the fact, she was told Harvard could not help her if she didn’t bring the case to university trial. If she didn’t move forward with it, she would have to continue going to class with her rapist —twice a week. She reasons that her rapist was a senior at the time so he would be long gone before any justice could be served. She writes of how it is misunderstood where and when sexual assault actually happens on campus:
Shutting down the final clubs, sororities, and fraternities on our campus will do almost nothing to help prevent sexual assault. In fact, more than 80 percent of sexual assault happens within Harvard’s own dorms, and yet no steps have been taken to secure those places.
It’s true: rapists and sexual predators exist within the single-sex organizations. And yes, members should start holding one another accountable for what happens within their social space. But shutting them down completely not only kills potential spaces for growth, but breeds animosity. Instead, clubs should be rewarded by the University for becoming coed or taking part in consent education programs. Still, I believe such changes are their choices to make.
You can read the full piece at The Crimson.