Trigger warning: Triggering language and discussion of rape to follow.
Last week I read news of another rape scandal hitting a big university. This time, however, it hit a little closer to home. My alma mater, The University of Colorado at Boulder, has come up in the news again. This time it isn't about weed on campus or Pac-12 football...This time it is about Title IX violation and covering up the culture of rape on the American College Campus.
I know that my experience of rape culture at an institution of higher learning isn't unique. It might, at this point, be one of those universal college experiences. Everyone should experience pulling an all-nighter, a poorly executed 21st birthday bar crawl, or what real failure feels like. College is all about that crap. But the fact that feeling vulnerable and unsafe while working towards a degree has become as common on campus as adderall and bad beer, that's an outrage.
In Boulder, there was a neighborhood just off of the main campus called "The Hill". Every college town has this neighborhood. It's the place where undergrads congregate to rent over-priced and shabby apartments, grab cheap food and cheaper booze, and party. This neighborhood was also where most of the sexual assaults happened. NOT a coincidence. This was not a place to walk home at night. This was not the place to wear heels, or even a short skirt. Just describing this place makes those feelings of being unsafe come tumbling out. Happy freaking Monday, right?! Years after graduation, those nights looking over your shoulder and keeping a close eye on your friends, still feel real. All to real.
CU Boulder, along with the majority of colleges need to join the ranks of universities like Amherst where their sexual assault policy is reviewed and revised to address the growing culture of rape. Other schools like Swarthmore, Dartmouth, USC, The University of North Carolina,and The University of Montana have been accused of mishandling on-campus rape cases and violating Title IX. The list, unfortunately goes on.
UNC student Landen Gambill speaks out against the university's sexual assault policy
Today, over at The Guardian, Alexandra Brodsky wrote a post demanding the End of rape culture at university. Brodsky, was sexually assaulted at Yale, but has only come forward to openly, and without shame, tell her story. She has become an outspoken advocate for change on college campuses and anyone who knows how she feels, either from personal experience or as an ally of those who've been through it, should read her story.
Hope Brinn and Mia Ferguson stand in front of a blackboard where they have written their complaints about sexual assaults at Swarthmore College
So where does that leave things? It falls to us. It comes down to the people, of all genders, to get mad as hell and not take this anymore. CU Boulder was a huge school where I often felt nameless and unimportant. Individual voices can get lost in the sea of students, but if we are loud enough, and voice our stories, then things will change. I'm left feeling like my college let me down, but I am still hopeful that the individuals who aren't tolerant of the misrepresentations and poor handling of these kinds of events will make us proud.
Images Via Guardian.co.uk, feministing.com, thinkprogress.org