Sexual assault cases are the number one silent traumas experienced on college campuses. In fact, one in five college students experience sexual assault during their college career, and 95 percent of those cases are unreported due to an extreme need for increased campus prevention and support systems. In recent Atlanta University Center news, students have begun to protest and speak out about their sexual assault experiences that have been reported and resulted in little to no justice or subliminal requests to let it go. This movement was the result of a tweet via Twitter that was posted on November 11, 2015 at 2: 58PM from a Morehouse College Sophomore (@TRAW2RAW) that stated, "Men of Morehouse, we need to check our brothers cause I'm sick of seeing this shit." An image was attached with a derogatory heading that read "Graves Sexual Consent Form," as shown below:
The " consent form" was an attempt to suggest that all sexual activities that occur in Graves Hall are performed with prior consent, and a "hoe" would not have the right to accuse a resident of Graves of sexual assault. The majority of students from the Atlanta University Center responded with much disgust for the content of the letter and the underlying reality that a Man of Morehouse would partake in something like this while others were concerned with the image of the school this tweet would display to outsiders.
Students made sure they responded and mentioned that this is not an issue of image. It's about the actual content of the character of the men who are accepted into this institution and their viewpoint on violence against women, which should not be tolerated at any school in the Atlanta University Center.
Viewers also wanted answers from Men of Morehouse and their stance on sexual assault, since the Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, visited the campus the day before, November 10, 2015, promoting the Obama administration's campaign entitled #ItsOnUS.
This campaign was aimed at ending all sexual assault on college campuses nationwide. Joe Biden requested all students mobilize efforts to end sexual assault in the Atlanta area, on our campuses, and in our businesses by speaking up about the issue and simply being aware of what consent actually means. Biden described sexual violence as a culture issue and reiterated the lack of change with sexual violence on college campuses within the last twenty years. Biden stated, "If you do not speak up, you are an accomplice. If you do not speak up, you are a coward! That could be your sister... your classmate!"
And yet, here we are, addressing sexual violence that has occurred between our sisters, our brothers, and our classmates who are enrolled in institutions that promote a bond based on "having each other's back." However, is that actually true in ALL aspects? Rape culture in the Atlanta University Center is addressed annually with sessions that present the facts on how prevalent sexual assault can be on campus, but the actual due process of those cases reported and the strenuous trauma it can create on victims is often overlooked. But, that is exactly what rape culture is: expecting more from the prospective victims as we normalize male sexual violence.
Each school in the Atlanta University Center has guidelines that state their stance on sexual assault and the actions that will be taken to give victims "justice." However, the biggest issue is the process it takes to get this justice and what justice will actually encompass. Sexual assault cases are handled on the campuses where the assault occurs. Therefore, if the assault occurs on Morehouse College, the due process will be established on Morehouse, and so forth. The due process includes the student first gaining the courage to tell someone, reporting it to the campus police department, expressing concerns to the Title IX Coordinators, and patiently waiting for further action that may be taken through the Atlanta Police Department.
Students have constantly expressed that they do not receive actual justice, especially if it occurs on the campus of Morehouse College, and the biggest question is: WHY?
Most colleges and universities, especially those who have a reputation to uphold, find it easier to maintain their image in front of the public and to protect their students. That could be quite understandable, since those are two factors that essentially matter the most in the numbers for prospective students and funding from sponsors—but should that actually matter? When there are no repercussions, victims are forced to see their perpetrators every day as they live with the constant memory of what occurred and how nothing really happened to help them feel safe in a place that will be our prospective home for four years.
A poll was taken by the Morehouse College newspaper, The Maroon Tiger, via Twitter that asked the public who Morehouse was actually protecting and 91 percent out of 606 votes chose the institution as displayed below.
It could be possible that the young man who wrote the "consent form,: wrote it as a self-perceived harmless joke, or maybe a retaliation for accusations against him. But, it does not excuse the seriousness of the affect it has on all students of the Atlanta University Center to be more aware of what consent actually means and to be unafraid to report any cases of sexual violence. Consent to sexual activity can be communicated in a variety of ways, but one should presume that consent has not been given in the absence of clear, positive agreement. Students should feel comfortable enough to talk to their partners about their sexual desires, needs, and limitations to provide this positive experience. It should be clear and unambiguous for each participant at every stage of a sexual encounter, and the absence of "no" should not be understood to mean there is consent.
Please understand that this is not an attack on those at my brother school, Morehouse College, or a defense mechanism for those who are victims. However, it is a request for all students, faculty, and staff to address issues of sexual assault firsthand with more care and seriousness despite the damage it may do to the image of the school. If it's not addressed now, it will be addressed later. We must come together to say no to rape culture, no to victim blaming, and no to sexual violence! After all, what will be the real purpose of upholding an image, if our men of these prestigious institutions do not uphold characteristics wholeheartedly to change the stereotypes of our black men through business and personal encounters?