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An Open Letter to the Bystanders

Dear Bystanders,

 

When do we stop making excuses for rape culture? When do we stop lowering our voices to talk about dirty secrets so as not to tarnish the reputations of well-established organizations? When do we stop making jokes about what sound a roofie makes when it hits the bottom of a cup? When do we start taking the injustice, inhumanity and insanity of rape culture seriously? When is enough?

If you’ve participated in the gossip on campus without condemning the grotesqueness of the culture, shame on you. If you’ve made excuses for the wrongs committed by the perpetrators, shame on you. If you’ve blamed a victim or made them feel like they were wrong for coming forward, shame on you. If you’ve turned a blind eye to shady incidents at parties without stepping in, shame on you.

Enough is enough.

We spent the month of April wearing teal shirts emblazoned with the words “Not a Bystander” on Tuesdays to bring awareness to the issue of sexual assault. Then, we spent the first few weeks of May hearing about not one, not two, but three sexual assault reports on our very own campus. Let’s take a second to call out that hypocrisy.

Drexel Police may have closed some cases, but the narrative is far from done. For the Philadelphia Police Department, Drexel’s Office of Equality and Diversity and a significant part of the university’s population, the investigation is still very well open. I’m leaving the discovery of details and the dolling out of consequences to the professionals, but I urge everyone on this campus to not stop asking questions.

Why do we condone this behavior? Why do we justify the repulsive traditions of rape culture with simple excuses? Why do we laugh and roll our eyes to show our indifference, insensitivity and lack of surprise at these events? Why are we not doing more to eradicate this behavior, to support victims and to bring awareness to the resources present on campus? Why haven’t these headlines caused an insatiable outrage that resulted in a movement?

 

To the brothers of Tau Kappa Epsilon, Pi Kappa Alpha and every other fraternity on campus, I’m not condemning you in this letter. I’m asking you for help.

 

We can’t stop the perpetuation of rape culture and sexual assault without you. We need the good guys to come out in full force. We need you to walk drunken girls home or call public safety to ensure that they get home unscathed. We need you to call out your brothers for being too intoxicated to make sound decisions about sexual encounters. We need you to report the facts of injustice if you have been witness to a crime. We need you to be unafraid to call attention to the truth even if that means “ratting out” a brother. I promise you that having a reputation for intolerance of sexual assault is far better for your fraternity than harboring a rapist at the expense of supposed brotherhood.

Finally, to those who feel unsafe at parties, to the ones who have stories they’re too afraid to tell, to the ones who are getting crap from others for coming forward, you are not alone. I am here for you. A significant portion of Drexel’s population is here for you. The Office of Equality and Diversity is here for you. The Drexel Counseling Center is here for you. You are worthy. You are brave. You will be heard.

 

Sincerely,

A girl who has felt unsafe at parties

Ariana is a senior communications major and a writer for Her Campus at Drexel University. She loves to learn about pop culture, sex and gender, and is currently working on her senior project researching communication about sexual health on campus. Her go-to binge-worthy shows are Friends and Sex and the City.
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