Omrod: From A Frustrated Female '19
When I visited Dartmouth in the summer of 2014, I walked around the campus and thought to myself, “This is it.” This was heaven. This was what college should look like. Everyone appeared to be happy and safe, basking in the sun and smiling on their way to classes during their sophomore summer. I did not know what hid behind the faces of some of the coiffed young men around me. Passing them on the Green, I did not know the potential some of them had to hurt. I did not know the potential some of them had to rape.
During the tour, my ever-protective father raised his hand aggressively and asked the question college tour guides dread: “What is Dartmouth doing about sexual assault on campus?” The tour guide remained poised and rattled off a few organizations working to support survivors and educate students about consent. In the moment, I was embarrassed to be standing with my father. Today, I tell this story with pride. My dad is a man who recognizes this problem and speaks out against it. I fear that too many of my male classmates would not have the same courage, but I hope that they someday will.
That summer, I was 17 years old and sexual assault seemed like a distant scene from a horror film in my sheltered, privileged life. Almost four years later, sexual assault is not just a reality, but a nightmare — a nightmare for so many people in my life. Every time a friend of mine tells me of their assault, I am less and less surprised, but still, every time I want to take their hand and extract their pain away. I want to hop in a time machine and protect them the moments before the assault happened, but nothing I can do would erase their trauma.
To the men of Dartmouth: I know the majority of you are not rapists. Furthermore, I acknowledge that sexual assault happens to people of all genders and is committed by people of all genders. But according to the Dartmouth 2017 Sexual Misconduct Survey, 34 percent of female-identifying students in the Dartmouth community have experienced “nonconsensual penetration or sexual touching involving physical force or incapacitation” since coming to Dartmouth. This means there is a significant chance, men of Dartmouth, that you know a rapist, that we all do. Furthermore, a 2011 report from the CDC found that 98.1 percent of female rape survivors, and 92.5 percent of female victims of other forms of sexual violence, reported only male perpetrators.
What do you do about the possibility that you know a rapist? Do you joke with your male friends about their sexual conquests? Do you party with them in your fraternity, even those about whom you have suspicions? Do you condemn rape culture during the day but remain paralyzed at night when you see someone walk off with someone else who looks to be too drunk to fend for themselves?
To the men of Dartmouth, I am begging you: please care about sexual assault. Simply not raping people is not enough; you need to take action. You need to hold your fraternity brothers, friends and acquaintances to a higher standard. You need to start caring, if you do not already. The well-being of your classmates must be a priority for you.
To those of you who are rapists, I hope you know how deeply your actions affect people. Do not pretend to be unaware of what you do. If you were intelligent enough to be accepted to Dartmouth, you must be intelligent enough to know what consent looks like. Please begin to change your behavior. Seek help from counseling services. Try and uncover the root of your desire to harm.
To survivors and every person out there working to fight against this culture of harm, thank you for fighting the good fight. I pray that one day our community no longer needs your activism.