Friday, December 7, 2012

Roosevelt responds

Roosevelt's President issued a response to the recent sexual assault that happened on campus.
From President Middleton:

December 7, 2012

Zero Tolerance for Sexual Assault

I am writing today about sexual assault, a crime that tragically occurs frequently on college campuses across our country. At Roosevelt a number of students and others have been speaking up about this deplorable act. I commend them for calling attention to this serious issue. In the true spirit of our University, they are advocating for people who have been victimized by other members of our society.

During my 40 years in higher education as a professor, dean, provost and president, I have always enforced a zero-tolerance policy for sexual assault and all forms of violence. College campuses should be free from the violence of the outside world. Yet, nationally one in four women will be the victim of a sexual assault during her academic career. Roosevelt is not immune from that reality, so we have a special obligation, with a record number of students living on campus, to be vigilant and caring.

Roosevelt complies with the federal Clery Act. Once a crime is reported to the University, if the perpetrator is unknown and there may be a risk to the campus community, we issue timely notifications. These alerts contain as much information about the suspect as possible and include information that would promote safety and aid in the prevention of similar crimes. We hold training sessions on sexual assault protocols for employees, including resident assistants and campus safety personnel, and provide information to students during new student orientation and through ongoing education and workshops offered by the Counseling Center, Campus Safety and Residence Life. Next fall, attendance at the session on safety and sexual violence will be mandatory for new students.

Students also need to support one another and make it clear that unacceptable behavior will not be tolerated. If they know of someone who has been assaulted, they should encourage the student to seek immediate help from Residence Life or Campus Safety at any time of the day or night. The University has experienced and trained counselors and safety officers who will provide a caring response to the victims of a crime and offer referrals and services to meet all of their physical and emotional needs. And we always enforce strict codes of conduct and cooperate with the local police in their investigation.

Please do not be silent about sexual assault. It is not a crime of passion and lust, it is a crime of violence. As many as 80% of all assaults involve acquaintances. An assailant might be someone you know quite well and may even be a friend or a coworker.

I know this is a difficult subject, but it is a serious issue that commands the attention of all of us, and so I urge you to discuss this issue at home, at work and in the classroom and to be an advocate against sexual violence here at Roosevelt and everywhere else. In order for our students and employees to be safe, we need everyone to be vigilant and to provide support when they know of someone who needs help. Thank you for taking a stand against sexual violence.


Chuck Middleton

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Roosevelt University- No Social Justice for Sexual Assault Victim

Sexual assaults on college campuses are nothing new. This is the worst sentence to have to type out. Not just because it speaks to the horrific history that student life has, but also because sentences like that are never followed by anything positive. Sexual assaults on college campuses are nothing new, and they continue at far too high of a rate (the ideal being 0). One in four women will be assaulted by the end of their time at school and only 81% of them will report it. 60% of rapes occur in the dorms.

So when an on campus sexual assault happens and is reported, it is the university's responsibility to both try and ensure student safety on campus better than they previously had, and speak out condemning the act. Ideally it would be, but time after time, the universities ignore the issue.

My girlfriend is a recent graduate from Roosevelt. She received an e-mail alert from the school after a sexual assault was committed on the 17th floor of the new dorm building on Wabash. The assault was reported on a Wednesday, having taken place two weeks prior, but no notice was given to the students for a few days. This is fine; it takes time to get the facts straight. But when notice did go out, it was a cut and dry form letter. [crime] happened on this date, in this location. The description of the assailant was a Caucasian male over 5’5”. And then, the dominating rape culture took over. Suggested precautions included being aware of what was around you, using the buddy system, and calling the police. In other words, big flashing lights that read “DON’T GET RAPED.”

This is a story that doesn’t mean anything without context.

Roosevelt University is a self-proclaimed “catalyst for social change.” Their mission statement:

Our view of social justice is based in a belief that fairness, honesty, integrity and impartiality should resonate throughout every institution within a civil society. Over the years, Roosevelt University has fortified this singular dedication to civic and social responsibility, human rights, community partnerships, and public outreach – the kind of learning that transcends the classroom. By reinforcing the importance of social consciousness to our students and greater community, the University plays a significant role in shaping the world’s next generation of progressive, ethical leaders.

So why, then, would its administration not openly condemn the assault? No statement from President Charles Middleton? Is this the social change that the university promotes?

Or is it the Student Government Association who eschews social justice? Recently, the SGA voted against asking the president to condemn sexual violence and speak against rape culture. Or is it just that sexual violence on university campuses is so engrained as part of the college experience that they feel they need not say anything about it?

The victim blaming, the intrinsic shaming of those who come forward has got to stop. It’s time for Roosevelt University to set an example for the rest of the country and be the catalyst for change they want to be. I hope President Middleton comes out against rape culture and speaks out against assault on his campus.

If you would like to do so, you can email him at