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Why I May Not Donate

Jillian Clark ‘19, Opinion Columnist

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One of the first pieces of advice I got from an upperclassman at Dickinson College was not to go to the lacrosse parties. At the risk of getting another half-a**ed email from President Ensign, I don’t say that to attack a certain group, but because it’s a very specific memory of my first week at Dickinson. My advice giver was addressing a group of first year women and clarified that “bad things happen to girls at those.” He proceeded to give us a list of safe parties that weren’t notorious for being a pool of easily accessible assault victims for the hosts. I remember laughing at the time, uncomfortable at the topic and the conversation because I didn’t really know what else to do but crack a joke and move forward. Other women I talked to on campus (in a very unscientific attempt at gathering outside opinions) said that they had been warned against baseball or football and some fraternities. 

At the same time I’ve heard of people having some decent conversations/experiences with individuals from said groups. The two are not mutually exclusive (aka- nice guys can be complicit too). Now that I’m a senior, I don’t remember the last time I was able to sit down with my friends for a girl’s night without the inevitable topic of who was assaulted and who assaults, coming up. A name is dropped, a profile looked up on Instagram or Facebook and usually an “oh my god, him?” is exclaimed as one of us have inevitably sat next to the alleged perpetrator in a class or two. More often than not when I meet alumni from Dickinson they will ask if so-and-so fraternity is still on campus and when they learn that no, it’s probably not, they express their disappointment at the path the school has chosen- usually ignoring the reasons for why the organization was kicked off in the first place. These reasons include (but are not limited to) sexual assault, hazing, and death related to hazing. 

While there are certainly individuals who need to take responsibility for their own actions and the actions of their teammates and friends, what bothers me more is the lack of action by the institution. Yes, Dickinson legally covers their proverbial asses with green dot programs and sometimes we even have a Title IX coordinator that we know the name of, but more often than not the responsibility is put on the student and victim rather than the perpetrator and system. We are asked to join the conversation, and told that these systems don’t work unless we work with them. I am told that it is my fault for not being more “involved in the conversation” when I feel unsafe, taking the blame off of the administration whose salaries are funded by my tuition and instead putting it on me and my classmates. Meanwhile I see the rapists, and stalkers, and harassers of my friends and classmates who have been reported walking to class beside me, because even when they are reported and maybe even expelled, they can always reapply next year. 

Although individuals can be a part of and complicit in an oppressive system, my point is not to make individuals feel bad about themselves (although some self-reflection wouldn’t hurt). According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 20-25% of college women will be raped within their time at school and two thirds of students experience sexual harassment. These numbers go up when you focus specifically on women of color on college campuses. My family and I pay for me to go to a school where I was taught starting in my freshman year to fear certain spaces and people. 

As a white woman, I am able to feel good in many spaces where others are not and I don’t take that for granted. That being said, I have never felt more in danger than on a campus that I pay for. In the years to come when I am asked to donate, I’m not sure I will based on that fact alone. 

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7 Comments

7 Responses to “Why I May Not Donate”

  1. Garrett on February 21st, 2019 1:57 pm

    From reading your article, it seems you may not know this, but sexual assault is a crime and should be reported to the police. Maybe stop waiting for the school to do something on what is realistically a police matter. I can’t imagine people sitting around talking about who assaulted who, instead of filing a police report…unless it wasn’t serious and was more of a drunken regret than a crime. Hate to put it on the “victim” but if you’re not contacting the police in response to a crime then you are complicit.

    “According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 20-25% of college women will be raped within their time at school”
    This statistic was found to be super misleading after people looked into the source it came from. The source was a survey that classified many vague things as rape such as an unwanted touch. Only about 11% of those who participated said they were assaulted in a way that would actually constitute rape by law. Out of that 11%, half said force was involved while the other half only involved alcohol.

    If you’ve actually been sexually assaulted or raped, contact the police. Don’t sit around gossiping about it as if all the problems will just magically disappear.

  2. MK on February 21st, 2019 8:41 pm

    Garrett, 🤦‍♀️

  3. Leb on February 22nd, 2019 2:51 pm

    Garrett, if you really “hated to put it on the ‘victim,'” you would’ve just kept your mouth shut. For all of our sakes, I sincerely hope you do so in the future. What an abhorrent comment

  4. Catherine on February 22nd, 2019 7:19 pm

    Garrett, it seems as though you did research into the breakdown of the 20-25% statistic, so I encourage you to look into the reasons why victims of assault do not report it. It is much more complex than thinking it is solely Dickinson’s responsibility, although Dickinson absolutely does have a responsibility to protect the safety of its students. Additionally “sitting around and gossiping” as you so …condescendingly put it actually DOES do something because it warns other people about potential aggressors and keeps them SAFE, as the institution to which they have entrusted their safety has let them down.

  5. DickinsonVictim2008 on February 23rd, 2019 6:04 pm

    Garrett,

    I agree that it should be easy to report and charge people (yes, women can assaulted other women and men) to the DPS and the police (DPS is considered part of CPD and work in conjunction with the town and county). Unfortunately, its a stigma that prevalent not just at Dickinson, PA or the USA but across the board world. Assault isn’t easy to report or discuss. It’s complex and a hard thing (even 15 years after my own assault as a Freshman) to explain for those of who haven’t been directly impacted by the assault. I include a long story about what happened to me my Freshman year. I’m not going to report -but it happened. I was to scared, immature and self-conscious to come forward.

    There’s social stigma. There’s a belief that the school won’t listen or maybe think it’s made up just to cause drama. Maybe the accusation that occurred in 2008 or 09 will happen again where there’s not enough evidence to convict or take trail. Maybe the pain of relieving it hurts to bad. Maybe the fall out from other students is too terrible. Unfortunately, not matter what, its pain, embarrassment, shame, just for starts. The emotional fall out without reporting can be tough alone without the burden of public scrutiny or back lash from the attacker.

    If you want to blame me for not reporting my assault as a Freshman, go ahead. Maybe just maybe, it’s not a black and white situation. I don’t blame Dickinson for the situation as it’s a problem and Dickinson has made positive steps to fix the damage for students on campus and it’s going to be an issue moving forward. As horrible it as it is, there’s going to be some issues on ANY COLLEGE CAMPUS when you get residential students on a campus together for the first time.

    Maybe more needs to be done for freshman through out the year/semester on social norms and expectations. As a woman, i do worry that we aren’t doing enough to educate our young women about what behavior to look out for among guys who are dangerous and how to defend ourselves. We shouldn’t have to but situations beyond our control do arise. I lived enough life to say that now. Not ever student is as well versed and experienced enter the limestone walls as others. It’s NEVER okay for this behavior but we need to be our own self advocate.

    PG

    I was grabbed by a guy in my freshman hall, let’s call him Benny (not his name). I couldn’t get loose even if i wanted. I thought it was a joke at first and ran with it and thought he was just being an ass and isn’t stupid or dumb enough to take beyond a joke. I didn’t realize just how drunk this guy was at the time. So where all of his friends (friends that I found out had made some really sick bets at my expense over my sexual conquest) This guy eventually dragged me into his bedroom, slammed me down on this bed where at least 5 other men (men that played on the same sports team as him) gathered around me like some kind of wild animal. I was still laughing outwardly but was terrified and my adrenaline started pumping. I was terrified. Another guy, who made me uncomfortable (let’s called him Robert) stood over the front headboard of the bed looking excited. Several of the guys tried to hold me down…Robert tried to jump on top. Thankfully, growing up around some pretty strong guys in my life I shoved my foot into his junk and threatened him that if he ever wanted to get it up again…he’d back of.f They all back off and quickly as if they didn’t expect me to fight back. I don’t remember much after that. I remember running back to my dorm room. I remember moving out or maybe i already had….and not talking for days. I didn’t open up about even to my closest friends until late the next semester. Rumors flew that they guys had gang sex with me (never happened) and other rumors flew that just weren’t true. Everyone of the guys tried to play nice to me – it was creepy. They stalked me through my sophomore year – jumping out of their car and holding doors and sometimes playing nice to me in-front of my friends.

  6. Late to the Party on February 24th, 2019 3:53 pm

    “Out of that 11%, half said force was involved while the other half only involved alcohol.“ Does anyone else find this distinction alarming? Perhaps revisiting the definition of consent would be useful. Lack of consent does not equate to physical force.

  7. Garrett on February 25th, 2019 1:55 pm

    @Catherine
    If we’re talking about a crime, which sexual assault is, then it only works to leave the criminals free to attack others. What do you want the school to do if people won’t take any action themselves? Is the school supposed to ban all parties or hire guards for every single female student? What actions can the school take to stop this, because I really don’t see any short of taking action against people without evidence. That would be the only end result I can see, because if you had evidence then you should be going to the police. Victims should report. The writer fails to offer even one possible solution even in theory, but demands the problem be solved immediately….it’s just more gossip.

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Why I May Not Donate