It’s not exactly news that rape and sexual assault are problems on college campuses, or that many if not most college campuses have a long way to go in terms of their response to sexual assault and the support they provide to survivors. But a recent story about college sexual assault hit a little closer to home for me than usual because it happens to feature my own alma mater.
This is Madeline Wilson:
She’s a senior at St. Olaf College, and she also happens to be a total badass. After the college mishandled her rape case, she made what is perhaps the most no holds t-shirt I have ever seen: “Ask me how my college is protecting my rapist.” Along with a group of fellow students, she is making some serious demands that the administration improve their processes for handling rape and sexual misconduct.
It’s always exciting to see a young person refusing to sit down when people in authority tell her to be quiet. The “grey shirts” as they’ve taken to calling themselves are starting to get notice in media outlets, but unfortunately the administration is not responding to their demands. It has agreed to put together a working group to discuss improvements to the policy. Unfortunately it will happen over the summer after everyone who is protesting has graduated. It’s hard not to see the move as either side stepping the people who are protesting or as not seeing the issue as important enough to require immediate action. They also have not addressed the specific issues that Madeline and her fellow students have brought up. Overall, the reaction has been disappointing at best.
If you want to show your support for Madeline and let the St. Olaf administration know where you stand, you can sign the petition to the President of the college here. This is a great example of young people who are taking activism to the next level. They have a clear list of problems and complaints, measurable and reasonable demands, and strong voices. I am so proud of them for stepping up to the plate and showing the world that young people are capable and deserve so much more than what they’re getting. Now it’s time for the administration to step up as well.
From those of us here at Skepchick: we believe you. You deserve better. Our colleges can do better. Kudos for demanding more.