Severity of campus rape incidents goes unreported

To the Daily:

This letter is in response to the headline, “Pledges: “We let our guard down”” in the Nov. 5 issue of the Daily. We would like to address the severity and misrepresentation of rape on this campus. The article spoke about the recent situation that arose at an unregistered semi-formal hosted by Beta Theta Pi fraternity on Oct. 25. Two 18-year-old Delta Delta Delta pledges have had the courage to come out and say that two men at that party drugged and sexually assaulted them that night.

One main focus of this investigation has been on whether or not the fraternity and sorority were supposed to be having a party and if they should be penalized because it was not a scheduled party. Another emphasizes how women need to be more careful at parties and how they should not “let their guards down.” Although both of these points are crucial to recognize, there is a significant aspect of this case that is being ignored that is, to stop victim blaming and focus on the act that has been reported.

The Daily quoted the sorority and the sorority sisters involved, as saying that they are designating one woman to watch over the the other sisters at future parties, and reviewing their policies to prevent further incidents. It is not the responsibility of these sororities to make sure that the men take responsibility for their own actions.

Two women have come forward to the police, their friends, family, and this campus after they had been drugged and raped. There has been no focus on the severity of rape or the crime that has been committed. There has been a focus on the environment and the women who came forward, but what about taking a look into the reasons and motivations that these accused men had for raping a woman? Our culture tends to focus on the victim and the steps necessary to prevent a rape from happening to a woman, but what about the steps necessary to prevent a man from raping woman? What can we teach men so that they know this is wrong?

Another aspect of this case that we have found disturbing is just how often this crime occurs on our campus and in our community and how infrequently it is reported. Many women do not come forward after experiencing some form of sexual assault, and we in part attribute this on the “blame-the-victim” mentality that often pervades investigations of sexual assaults. The result is that many women blame themselves for the crime that has been perpetrated against them they should have been more careful, less trusting, more informed. But in reality, for however much women are educated on the dangers of the drinking scene, rapes still occur, even among the least trusting and most informed. These University students may have gone to the party to drink, but they did not go there to get raped.

We would like to know what steps have been taken in the investigation the potential rape of two of our fellow students and what is being done to teach men that rape is a serious offense and will not go unpunished. Mostly, we offer our support to these women for their courage to come forward.

This letter was jointly-submitted by LSA seniors Lanni Lantto, Haruna Madono, Stephanie Dionne, Bess Rozwadowski, Wendy Whitfield, Courtney Love, Jill Finster, Kellogg Godchaux, Vatasha Ebanks, Christina Meyer, Rackham student Dawn Lawhon and women”s studies lecturer Jane Hassinger.

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