When It Comes To Sexual Assault Reports, Schools Are Failing

When It Comes To Sexual Assault Reports, Universities Are Failing Their Students

The way universities are treating sexual assault reports are astounding.

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Over a year ago, on January 24, 2018, Larry Nassar was sentenced for over 150 sexual assault cases involving athletes. Starting in 1992 these assaults targeted several students at Central Michigan University as well as elite gymnasts.

Nassar got what he deserved, most likely dying in prison for his crimes. However, Central Michigan University failed to take several reports ranging from 1997 to 2015 seriously which led to Nassar assaulting even more women.

CMU covered for Nassar instead of investigating to protect his reputation, as well as their own. This seems to be a growing trend among universities across the United States. Students are reporting sexual assaults or rapes, and the university tries to cover up any scandal it can to preserve its reputation.

I'm not naive, I understand that not every university is looking to silence victims. Programs like Title IX are great and truly try to help sexual assault victims. However, there are stories across the nation that read just like the victims from CMU. It is time that universities stop failing their students and start taking sexual assault reports seriously.

One might think that this is an issue specific to CMU, an issue that occurred because of one or a few people's gross negligences. This is occurring in universities all around the United States of America, and the rest of the world. We must ask for better from our institutions, otherwise, there will surely be another Nassar.

College campuses must start creating a culture where reporting means something, where there will be consequences for offenders. Otherwise, there will be another case like Nassar. If you disagree with me and think universities are doing an alright job of listening to victims, then think about it like this. What if it was your best friend, your sibling, or your child who was assaulted because someone did not take a report seriously? What if hundreds of victims could be saved by simply listening and investigating reports?

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I'm The Life Of The Party, But I'm Also Depressed

It's more than just being sad, it's avoiding friends. not showering, not eating, and drinking cups of coffee at 3 in the morning.
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This is a topic I'll definitely write about more than once. I've been depressed and suicidal for as long as I can remember. I remember first being suicidal in 4th grade, I was only 9 years old at the time. I don't think I can recall a time when I wasn't depressed. I've been on every medication you can name, done counseling with more than one counselor at a time. I have tested essential oils, prescription drugs, herbs, changed my diet, became vegetarian. I've done it all.

For awhile, after I got into the seventh grade, things had become much better for me. After coming out at the end of my sophomore year, I experienced some flack from people at my conservative, Catholic school, but by the beginning of my junior year of high school, people were over it. I remember being truly happy in those years. I was going out almost every night with my friends, and I hung around a lot of different people. There wasn't a night I sat at home alone. My friends would often say that I was the life of the party and was just fun to be around. You never knew what was going to come out of my mouth or what I was going to do next. Would I be grinding on my friend Lani at a party? Would I be spraying whip cream all over Caroline as she's trying to clean? Would I be throwing shade with Dominic, Kara, and Del? Would I be grabbing brunch with my brother Vincent and talking about anything and everything? Would I be driving around town in my car listening to music with Myah? Would I be going to late night McDonald's stops with Myah and posting on my Snapchat? Would I be going on Portillo's trips with my friend Tim? Would I be going on sushi trips with my girls? The answer is all of them and so much more. I'm an extrovert; I live for the smiles on people's faces.

I hit my worst depression my senior year. I definitely wasn't getting along very well with my mom, but that isn't even the worst of it. In November of my senior year, I had been stealthed, and my heart had sunk for awhile. It wasn't the worst either though. I honestly feel I got over my sexual assault very quickly, because I wasn't going to let it ruin me as a person. The thing that did ruin me was being in an abusive relationship.

As many people know, I was engaged. I did everything I could from start to finish to make that relationship work. Things weren't always bad though. We just fought almost every single day. Long distance relationships are hard, but it's even harder being a toxic relationship. I don't want to talk about that though. Since separating, Fabian and I have gone our separate ways. I've written letters and put them aside for the time being. Maybe one day he'll receive them. He'd most likely just throw them away, which is fine. At least I tried, and he knows I always did. Maybe one day he'll sit down with me for a cup of coffee at Rooster, the place I had wanted to eat at the morning I last saw the man. By now, I'd be living in St. Louis, I wouldn't be typing this, and I wouldn't be telling my story.

My depression hit its very lowest point when I was with Fabian. I should have gotten out a long time ago, or just taken a break, but I didn't. Most people think depression is just being sad, but it's more than that. Severe depression, or Major Depressive Disorder, which I suffer from is more than just being sad. Severe depression can also mean not showering for days on end, not brushing your teeth, not eating, not drinking, and just not taking care of yourself at all. I have done every single one of these.

There were days when I would wash my hair in a sink with shampoo, but not actually take a shower. I'd just throw on some cologne and call it a day. After all, I was just a "lost cause" to quote someone who said this to me. Brushing my teeth also became a struggle. I was pretty good at brushing at least once a day, but twice was no longer a thing for me. I also used to use mouthwash every morning and night, and that was no longer a thing at all. I completely stopped eating many times, and I rarely drank water. I just couldn't pull myself together, and my partner who was supposed to make me feel loved didn't necessarily make me feel that way.

He was a shoulder to cry on after my sexual assault, but as times went on, I felt like I could no longer rely on him. Who are you supposed to turn to when the person you always turned to no longer cares to hear what you have to say. "Overemotional," "overdramatic," and "Just be happy" were all things that I heard from him.

He just didn't understand, and because of that our relationship and my mental state continued to spiral downwards. I had extremely high expectations, and whenever I was feeling sad, I wasn't supposed to talk, but if I didn't talk, he'd get upset with me. "You're always sad, and no one wants to be around someone who is sad. If you can't be happy, just keep it to yourself" was a common text message I got whenever I was feeling anxious or depressed.

I pulled away from my friends. It's something I've always been good at doing when I'm depressed. I completely disappear, stop responding to messages, avoiding conversation, dreading work, and let me tell you, I love work. I get to work with people and get to know people, and that is exactly what an extrovert like me loves doing. I also work for a nonprofit in Chicago where I get to work with young people and get to inspire them to be themselves and open their eyes to different views points and opinions. Working for that nonprofit is my life! I love doing it because when I was a sophomore in high school, they opened my eyes and gave me the strength to come out as gay. I continue to work for this company and help inspire so many others to embrace who they are... but guess what? My severe depression I experienced had me avoiding all work with them. They are a volunteer group, so I almost rarely stayed active in the community. How could I inspire others to feel full and proud when I felt empty and like a "lost cause."

My friends will tell you that when I'm depressed it's almost unnoticeable because I am the life of the party. I'm always laughing, always got a snap of my finger in the air, always sassy, loud, funny, and just positive. That's the problem with depression; it's more than just being sad. It doesn't have any real symptoms, because I'm not sad all of the time, but I am definitely depressed all of the time. Have you ever been at your graduation party dancing to "Eenie Meenie" by Justin Bieber but also wanting to jump from the water tower?

Yes, I'm suicidal, but don't be afraid. I'm not any harm to myself. I don't self harm, or do any drugs that could potential mess with my psyche. I have the thoughts of suicide, and I first had them when I was 9. Back then, jumping from the water tower was always the dream I had, probably why that one rings in my head to this day. I have never self harmed, cut myself, or anything along those lines. If things have gotten really bad for me, I have always made sure to just fall asleep. Often times, I wake up feeling drained, but it's better than feeling suicidal.

I didn't intend for this article to be nearly this long, and at this point, it just seems like a jumbled up mess, but so is my depression. This isn't the last time I'll write about my depression. It's more than just this. It has explanations and reasons, but for the time being I just wanted to write a rough draft I guess you could say of what it feels like. I wanted this to be what leads into my depression and how I've fought back the suicidal thoughts and how I did everything I could to make sure I'm still here. I have people I still need to take care of. I have people I still need to inspire. I have people who still need me. My story isn't over yet, and neither is yours. Don't give up. If you need someone, I'm here for you.


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I Will Ask 'What's My Name'

A simple phrase that could save my life

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Recently, a USC student, Samantha Josephson, lost her life after getting into a car that she had thought was her Uber. Her friends were worried when they realized she never made it home and they couldn't get a hold of her. Her body was soon found. As a college student myself, and an avid Uber user, this story absolutely terrified me and has been running around my mind since I read the news story and watched the clips of her getting into the car.

Think of how often you call an Uber or a Lyft, whether it's in broad daylight because you are heading to get groceries or late at night heading home from a bar. Often, I try my best not to Uber alone, but sometimes that isn't the case if I am going back to my own apartment after a night out with my boyfriend (who always walks me to my Uber and calls me on the way so he knows I make it back safe). But unfortunately, not everyone has that luxury. And yes, unfortunately, just that one small thing he does is a luxury.

Uber has been around for a few years now but does not do enough to ensure the safety of both the driver and the passenger. Background checks are not extensive, or non-existent. Too many people are attacked, abducted, raped, or murdered by using a simple service to get to their personal destination. And being a woman especially, makes me, and others, that much more likely to experience this fate.

I am so deeply upset and terrified for Samantha, other victims, and myself. For when I step in an Uber, I put myself at risk. I keep going back to what I imagine she must have been thinking when she realized what would happen. The fear that must have consumed her wholly from the minute she knew things were wrong. The things she would have wanted to tell her loved ones. The way her life should have played out.

Watching the video of her stepping into what she thought was her Uber still give me chills and make me want to throw up. At that moment, her fate was sealed. I am so utterly heartbroken.

So from here on out, I will share my ride with my friends. I will sit in the backseat. I will stay on the phone with friends when I get in the ride. I will not ride drunk. I will not Uber alone. I will check the license plate of the car. I will be aware of my surroundings. I will avoid Ubers at all cost if possible.

I will ask "who are you picking up?" instead of saying "is this for Katie?".

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