The author requested anonymity for fear of harassment.
Content Warning: This article contains references to sexual assault.
As a survivor, I felt terrible pain this week as friend after friend told me they were rushing. Each day has brought a new conversation, jaw clenched, heart pounding and falling and breaking, as I try to hold my ground and demonstrate in some way that the experiences of survivors, people of color, queer people – my experiences – and all who embody any combination of these identities, are worth making the individual choice to opt out of.
I wonder if it’s reasonable to be upset, years of internalized rape culture reminding me to paint myself as hyperreactive. I hate that I care so much, the self-blame creeping in again as I wish I could return to ignorant bliss. I hate that they care so little. I can’t figure out how to feel safe with these friends anymore – friends I’ve revealed to, friends I’ve been vulnerable with, friends whose fraternity brothers have separated me without remorse, leaving me panicked. and alone with no one to go home with. How do I know that my friends won’t become the next guardians, the ones who let the attackers stay at the party? How do I know they won’t stay loyal to the institution they paid to be a part of – an institution that promotes secrecy, protection and maintenance of tradition and dominance on this campus?
Sexual violence is an inflicted trauma that can have incredibly dangerous side effects. I think of my own assault, perpetrated by my best friend at the time, and how hopeless I feel three years later. I think about the strangeness I feel in my own body, how I wish I could get out of a skin that no longer looks like me. I think of the time I spent wishing I could escape a world I no longer felt at home in. I think of the number of survivors who share the feeling that the assault has ruined their lives – it is “survival”, after all – and how many have been killed by a world and a culture in which they can never feel security.
So when I think of this university – one where two out of five cis women undergraduates will experience sexual violence before graduating – I remember that I am not at home here, that a place with such academic success has an extremely violent belly. That I follow brave women like Chanel Miller and Leah Francis, and so many others, who fought hard to even be heard and were denied justice. Between 1997 and 2014, only a rapist was expelled at Stanford, despite nine convictions for sexual assault during the same period. A. The exceptional part of sexual violence at this school isn’t that our fraternities are better at preventing it – it’s that our stats are twice as high. average of universities in this country. Rape and sibling culture are inextricably linked – some “friends” deny this reality, but the few who have acknowledged it have expressed a desire or intent to change it.
So no, I’m not overreacting when I wince at your plans to pay for this “sacred brotherhood” and your contributions to maintaining rape culture at this university. I’m afraid. Students at this university, students of color, marginalized students, gay students, and all intersections of those identities deserve to be safe. But more than that, we deserve to be able to exist on this campus with some sense of security.
I don’t care if the frats control the social scene. I care about the safety and respect of everyone on this campus. I cannot sit idly by while privileged and unscathed students at this university produce new survivors. Create lives that feel ruined. Deprive us of this essential need to feel at home in the world.