I’ve been hesitant to write about everything that is going on at the University of Richmond right now and my opinions on it, simply due to the fact that I am a freshman amidst a lot of controversy that, frankly, I don’t know much about. But, after hearing of event after event in the past week, it is hard for me not to express my concerns. For those of you who are unaware of what has been happening, here is some context before I begin: the UR administration has been dealing with a lot of outrage lately in regards to how a sexual assault case was handled from last spring. The brave victim spoke out through the Huffington Post to share her story, which caused a lot of dialogue on campus. Then, one of the fraternities on campus was suspended indefinitely due to a horrific and sexist email that was sent out by two members of the undergraduate chapter.
Now, coming into college you hear about sexual assault and its prevalence. Everyone knows who Brock Turner is, and I am constantly seeing new stories of sexual assault cases made famous by the public, furious with how the cases were handled. Unless you live under a rock, you know the world is terrifying and there are horrible people. What I never truly understood was how accepted rape culture was. Now that I know that, I have developed a whole new level of fear.
Before hosting a party on campus this past weekend, some members of Kappa Alpha told over 100 UR male students that it was “...the type of night that makes fathers afraid to send their daughters away to school.” When I read this from an article on The Collegian, unsurprisingly, my heart dropped. Then after expressing my concerns to many other students due to the shock that language like this was even accepted by fraternity members, I learned that this was just a tiny fraction of the gruesome things that fraternity brothers say to each other on a regular basis.
All I can ask is how can you promote rape culture?
After all of us have gone through freshman orientation where they asked anyone who has experienced sexual assault or the effects of it to stand up, and nearly every person in that theater was standing. After we have seen and heard the toll it takes on a person from numerous survivors, like CC Carreras. After most freshmen have lost faith in the administration after we all read “There’s a Brock Turner in all o(UR) Lives” on the Huffington Post's contributor platform. How can you encourage it?
We, as freshmen, are a blank slate. We are coming into this university with nearly no knowledge of what it is actually like being in college, or particularly, in this college. We are still at the stage of hesitant introductions to people on your hall, or getting involved on campus to feel more integrated into the community. After almost a month of living here and being a University of Richmond student, I can honestly say that this “blank slate” has been replaced with two emotions: fear and disgust. I’m scared that the people I walk by on the way to class are the ones who would laugh at what KA wrote in that email. I’m terrified that if I decide to go out with my friends on a Saturday night, that my strength isn’t enough to overcome the so clearly accepted rape culture. And I am petrified that in the worst case scenario if I do get sexually assaulted, that my own administration will suppress my voice and place the blame on me.
When some of my friends who are applying to college ask me about the University of Richmond, I honestly don’t know what to say. I, like many freshman girls, do not have the faith in our university like the upperclassmen do. We don’t know who we can trust or what to believe. So, what I want to say to the University of Richmond is this: give me something to believe in.