A Survivor’s Thoughts on the Sit-In

Mary Smith ’20, Guest Columnist

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Thank you to Rose for being so brave this week and the whole-time during college that you’ve been fighting for Title IX reform. No one would be speaking up right now without your movement.

It’s disheartening to acknowledge that so many of us have to go through college with the extra burden of constantly being scared for our safety. We always have to “accept” the groping, sloppy forced-kisses, catcalling, and sometimes more severe sexual violence that comes with a “typical” Friday night out. So for those of you who aren’t constantly wondering if the frat boy behind you is following you or just walking to his place, this article is for you. This is for the men who worry if they’ll win at pong, while women (and others) worry if our drinks will stay safe during pong.  I have gone through Title IX too many times, each incident the same as the last, wondering why I keep ending up in this lifeless office.

If you’re a guy in a male-dominated group that perpetuates rape-culture and toxic masculinity and will continue to support your rape-accused brothers and teammates, take advantage of drunk womxn, incessantly prey on first-years after this sit-in, or just stay complicit in watching others do things like this, you’re still the problem. A lot of us are being re-traumatized by this protest, too depressed/anxious/scared to even go near the HUB, are missing classes, and are sleepless at night remembering events that have happened at the hands of your ambivalence. A lot of us have been hurt by the Title IX process, but only after we were hurt by you.

“It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear, and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain. The victim demands action, engagement, and remembering.” – Judith Herman

Don’t get me wrong, I am still in 100% agreement that Title IX needs to change. There’s just so much hypocrisy in seeing some men join the sit-in when just last week they were buddied-up  at Alibis with abusers, ignoring women’s first rejection – first utterance of “no” -, and commenting on unsuspecting women’s bodies. So, maybe instead of using this sit-in as a chance to tout your “allyship”, you can use it as a wake-up call for self-reflection. Be honest with yourselves about yourselves. 

Lastly, I probably won’t be participating in the Sit-in happening in the HUB. I deeply believe in Rose and the cause, but at this point in time I can’t find the emotional strength to join. To other survivors who might be going through the same thing: it’s okay to step back this week. Let others stand-up for you if you can’t. And while Title IX might not always be on our side, try to remember those who did help you. The system is broken, but I’m glad there are some people out there trying to fix it. The administration clearly lacks empathy for us, but I thank the few professors and faculty members who do all they can to make up for the ambivalence from the administration.