You Cannot Silence Sexual Assault Victims
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Politics and Activism

Dear School Administration, You Cannot Silence Sexual Assault Victims

Time and time again, sexual assault victims don't receive the justice, nor healing, necessary to cope with their sexual assault due to the silence and inactivity of school administrators.

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Dear school administration,

Some say that "silence is golden," but in the case of sexual assault across high school and college campuses is not an instance where silence is necessary. What's truly golden, however, is the justice and healing that sexual assault victims NEED, in order to successfully move forward in life.

On June 2nd, 2018, Lulabel Seitz, the valedictorian of Petaluma High School in Petaluma, California, was silenced during her graduation speech as she chose to speak up about her sexual assault.

"Because the class of 2018 has demonstrated time and time again that we are not too young to speak up, to dream and to create change... which is why, even when some people on this campus, those same pe..." and that's when her microphone went silent. Seitz became frustrated and asked the crowd to stand. Some applauded while others changed, "Let her speak!" After a minute of silence, the microphone was not coming back on and Seitz returned to her seat.

Seitz was sexually assaulted on her high school campus by someone she knew and was upset at what she described as the lack of action by the administration.

Seitz told the Press Democrat, "I thought this is a public school with the freedom of speech," she said. "This is for my class that stood up and said 'let her speak.' Even if the administration doesn't give me a mic, I still want to speak."

It is known that Seitz was warned not to include anything about her sexual assault in her valedictorian speech, but Seitz saw a platform and a time to speak up against her assault and to let others know that they're not alone.

In the heart of Texas, at Texas A&M, home of the Aggies, a fellow student named Hannah voiced her frustration against the lack of action by the administration. Hannah took to Twitter to display a response email she received from the A&M Athletic Department after discussing with them about her unhappiness with the department agreeing to let the boy who sexually assaulted her back on the swimming team.

As children, we are taught to confide in teachers whenever danger is present and as we embark on the college journey, we are notified that if we seek trouble or danger, we should confide in school officials or the campus police station to help alleviate any danger we may feel is present.

However, how can we confidently confide in school officials if they continue to turn their backs on our problems, especially something as dire as sexual assault?

When the American Association of University Women (AAUW) looked at 2014 date of 11,000 campuses disclosing annual crime data, it found that an overwhelming majority of schools, 91 percent, certified that they had not received a single report of a rape that year.

What does that prove? That proves that undergraduate women do not feel safe, nor confident, enough to confide in school officials and authorities to handle their sexual assault cases.

In addition to these statistics, every college campus is required to notify students of their Title IX and Clery Act. Title IX is a civil rights law and revolves around gender equity, while the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act is a consumer protection law, passed in 1990. It requires all colleges and universities that receive federal funding to share crime stats from campus; to discuss the efforts they are making to improve campus safety and to inform the public of crime in or around campus.

These acts and laws are great to have, but what good is it if the school administration just wipes their butt with it, instead of taking action to help young men and women who have been sexually assaulted?

I'm here to let school administration know that sexual assault victims cannot be silenced. There will always be a voice and a platform for the victims to use to receive the healing and justice that they need.

Laws, bills, and acts are not enough and it's not enough to "increase security for the safety of all students." If we're going to turn off microphones, but assault suspects back in the school system or the athletic department, then everything is for naught.

It's evident that school administration must step away from their bias and step away from protecting the school and the assailants, and start protecting the victims instead. The consistent conversation needs to happen on improving the stigma on victim-blaming, practices at EACH campus to have rape kits done at student health centers, and having sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs). SANE's gather forensic evidence when an individual comes in to be treated for rape. SANE's are also a strong recommendation by the Department of Justice to help aid in the justice of victims who have been assaulted.

Taking steps such as these will help increase evidence and give solid cases on helping sexual assault victims achieve justice.

No matter how inebriated the victim may have been or what they wore, or even how they acted, CONSENT EXISTS, and if consent is not given to engage in consensual sex, then rape has occurred.

It's time to do BETTER, speak up, and stand beside victims of sexual assault. Reputation is tarnished more when silence occurs versus speaking up.

Sincerely,

A concerned college student

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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