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The College refuses to stand with victims of sexual assault...

safety

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College of Charleston

campus

The College refuses to stand with victims of sexual assault...

...regardless of what they say

Lindsay Dragunoff

11.18.17

(Content Warning: sexual assault)

Around 2 a.m. on Oct. 27, a College of Charleston student was sexually assaulted in her residence hall. According to the report released by public safety there was a knock on her door. A man, about 18 to 20, forced himself inside and committed the assault.

The sexual assault was a strong reminder of how prevalent sexual assault is on our campus and in our state. According to the White House report from 2014, 1 in 5 young women will be a victim of sexual assault while they are attending college in South Carolina.

This depressing statistic sums up the toxic environment that many women are forced to endure while they pursue higher education. In 2014, South Carolina ranked number 1 in the country for deadly violence against women and has ranked within the top ten for 15 consecutive years. Knowing this information, College of Charleston should work especially hard to combat sexual assault, but they do not.
According to our president, Glenn McConnell, “Behind every report of a sexual assault is a survivor who deserves our support.” He is right. Victims of rape do deserve our support, but the harsh reality is that the College barely offers any support to victims. Survivors that have the courage to come forward and report instances of sexual assault are dragged through a long, painful, and complicated process. The College forces victims to relive their painful experiences over and over again through multiple hearings. At these hearings, they are asked harassing questions, that range from “What were you wearing?” to “Are you sure you didn’t know him?”

To their relief, most victims end up dropping their cases before the final verdict is determined. Understandably, they cannot handle the unbearable pain of being forced to relive their experiences a million times over.

At The College of Charleston, administrators love to say how much they support survivors. Meanwhile behind closed doors, their support shifts from the victim to the rapist, who get to continue living their lives without any consequences. Policies at the College ensure that the victim, not the perpetrator, is punished. This process makes it even more difficult for victims to process the aftermath of a sexual assault. Consequently, many sexual assault victims deal with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and flashbacks. It is not surprising that 95% of campus rapes go unreported. This staggering number shows us that we do not do enough to make victims feel comfortable coming forward.

The College of Charleston would rather sweep rape under the rug so that they can continue collecting tuition from rapists while victims continue to suffer in silence. The College cares more about protecting their reputation than they do about protecting victims. The rape culture that the College perpetuates isolates survivors and makes them feel like they are alone in their suffering. If you are a victim of sexual assault and you think you are alone in your experiences, I can assure you that you are not. This is not your burden to carry; it’s his burden to carry.

We need to stop blaming victims for their sexual assault. If you were sexually assaulted, it does not matter if you were wearing a mini skirt or sweatpants. It is still not your fault. It does not matter how much you had to drink. Being drunk does not equal consent.

From a young age, girls are told that they need to be careful in order to not get raped. Girls are told to stick together in groups, not to stay out too late, and not to dress too provocatively. Although this narrative is sometimes well-intentioned, it places the responsibility on the victim, rather than the rapist. It does not matter how careful you are. No one is immune to sexual assault. Instead, we need to teach boys to respect women. Men need to accept the fact that "no" actually means "no." "No" does not mean "convince me."

If you'd like to express your concern regarding this matter, you can reach C of C President, Glenn McConnell, at president@cofc.edu or at 843.953.5500.