If you read anything today, please take the time to read this brave statement from a former Amherst student that was published earlier today. Here’s it reprinted on inthecac if that link is broken. The story recounts a story of sexual assault on Amherst’s campus and the administration’s botched handling of the situation. At times the story struck me with horror, outrage, and ultimately extreme frustration at the ways in which the administration failed to demonstrate empathy and compassion.
For the past three years on this campus, I have locked the door to my room maybe 10 times. As a single woman, I have walked across campus at every hour of the night and have never once felt unsafe. It is easy to lose yourself in the overwhelming feeling of security on this campus, to feel as though nothing could ever go wrong. In doing that, however, we restrict ourselves from the ability to have important conversations about the times when our safety is at jeopardy. We are not always safe here- bad things happen, sexual assault happens, and the fact that people are uncomfortable or unwilling to discuss them is a problem. This story from Amherst merely highlights this issue- the failure of their administration to effectively handle the situation is yet another horrible element to this problem.
Last year, students at Middlebury held an event titled “It Happens Here” where students read anonymously submitted stories about sexual assault, sexual disrespect, and miscommunication. This is a conversation that needs to happen on this and every campus- something we consistently fail to do at Middlebury.
Health and Wellness at Middlebury focuses so much of its time on sex, alcohol, and drugs, that it fails to address these critical issues. Mental health issues and sexual assault are hardly ever topics of discussion. The newly-appointed Student Government Director of Health and Wellness for Addie Cunniff ’13 addressed these issues at the latest SGA meeting. “There is really a gap in student wellness on this campus… There’s basically very little happening on campus for health and wellness that is not alcohol related.” Although the Middlebury administration recently announced updates to the sexual misconduct policy, there is still more that can be done. This article from Amherst, along with accusations of rape on the Wesleyan College campus this week and many other similar stories in the news, remind us that we cannot ever forget that these things happen, even in our safe bubbles in rural Vermont.