The Importance of Title IX’s Rules Now – They Weren’t There for Me

Clare (Froggatt) Fitzgerald '05, Guest Columnist

I am certain you are receiving many stories of victims of sexual assault at Dickinson throughout the years. It is my hope that these stories are heard in some capacity. Please allow me to contribute mine.

I was sexually assaulted at Dickinson in the fall of 2001, [Editor’s Note: This incident was not reported to the college] the end of my first semester on campus. A good friend and I were invited to the room of a well-known, well-liked upperclassman for cocktails. Of course we went, of course we drank, we were 18 and classes were almost over. All three of us drank a good deal (I believe – all I know is that my female friend and I were very drunk). The upperclassman walked my friend home, because he was a “good guy” and wanted to make sure she was safe. I wanted to stay and finish a movie. I ended up passing out on his bed, and waking up with most of my clothing off.

I can’t say what happened that night, because I have only a vague memory of wanting it to be over. I just dealt with it in the moment, because I didn’t think I had the standing to say otherwise. When it was over, when he was done, he walked me home. Again, he was the “good guy”. I tried to walk several feet in front of him, just to get away.

I can’t say I never told anyone – people figured it out, and assumed it was consensual, so I assumed that too. The next few days I felt like I was in a sad, depressive fog, but I figured it was the alcohol or my period or just a bad mood. But I never reported it. I didn’t think I could. I had willingly gone to this man’s room. I had willingly drank. I hadn’t left. Never mind that I was too drunk to say no, to push him away, or to think I had any say in the matter.

It took me several years, and reporting of other, similar cases, to realize what actually happened. And now, where do I report? This individual is still well-known and well-liked in the donor/alumni community. He’s been featured in college media. I haven’t given anything to the college. Who am I to cast stones?

I understand students receive consent-based assault prevention training before matriculation, which is certainly something we never had. With all of the protests that the college doesn’t handle Title IX violations well, I just want to voice my support for the students. These regulations are of the utmost importance. Students deserve to have a safe environment in which to learn. They deserve to not feel threatened when they go to class or to eat in the cafeteria or to work out at the gym or to study at the library, or to go out and have fun with their friends. Knowing your assailant is on campus, bumping into him again and again, is a certain type of cut you feel over and over. Maybe, like me, you don’t understand the source of the cut, but you feel it all the same.

Dickinson, do better for your current and future students. Do better than you have for alumni like me.