July 21, 2019 | 83° F

Treatment of sexual assault at Rutgers not indicative of revolution

Letter to the Editor

To Our Survivors: 

Last week, advocates were honored to be present in serving University students and survivors as we viewed an important documentary, "The Hunting Ground," which discusses sexual assault and rape culture on college campuses. We organized ourselves and our minds to be there in support of our survivors. We were thanked for our service and applauded for being a part of the “Revolution: It Starts Here," movement.  

But today, I question if the Revolution is really starting here at Rutgers University, where we deny the formal formation of sexual assault task force on our student assembly because they feel that we can’t actually solve the problem. The University where we reinstate football players after being accused of committing an act of assault under domestic violence against a young woman because formal charges were dropped, even though innocence was never proven. The school where we suspend rapists, who admit guilt, for just three semesters and tell that survivor that there’s just too much grey area in her case. Is this how a revolution against sexual and interpersonal violence begins? Our University needs a reality check — we have yet to join the solution or create a revolution, but instead the University is steadfast in perpetuating the problem. 

The University continues to deter our survivors — the survivors that as advocates we support wholeheartedly — from reporting these crimes against them. The actions of our University continue to silence them, to shame them and continue not to protect them. But to our survivors, know that the shame is not yours. It belongs to the perpetrator, to the University, to the administration that tolerates the despicable actions of the perpetrator. It is shameful to see that our University values football statistics over taking the proper stand against sexual assault and interpersonal violence on our campus. It’s shameful that they’ve patted themselves on the back for hosting the viewing of "The Hunting Ground" when they too should be documented for their shameful actions. 

As I continue to shake my head in disappointment for the University administration that still just doesn't get it, I’m able to hold my head high for one reason: Our survivors — the brave souls who do come forward, who meet with advocates to share their stories and who are surviving, day in and day out. We will fight for you to be heard, to achieve the outcomes of justice for you and we will listen with our ears, our minds and our hearts. To our survivors from your advocates: We believe you, we support you and you are not alone!

Raven Lynne Jenerson is a School of Social Work junior majoring in social work. She is a Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance Advocate. 

Raven Jenerson

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