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 firstname.lastname@example.org