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“Rape” is an issue?

On September 21, 2014, at 11:12 am, Spelman College students received an email from the Police Captain of Public Safety, Askia H. Bashir.  The email consisted of an investigation underway by Atlanta Police in response to a sexual assault on Morehouse College’s campus in which the Captain described the instance as:

“Raped”.  Within the next couple of hours, the Spelman College community ignited.  Many Spelman women spoke out against the misuse of the entire situation. 

The email left Spelman students uneasy and uncomfortable with the handling of sexual assault within the Atlanta University Center.  The ambiguous use of an incredibly serious issue should not be used by the force that should be protecting the students that attend the institution.  If the word “rape” is how Spelman College’s Public Safety handles a sexual assault, how can we trust that future action may be taken effectively?

Since the email, Dean of Students, Kimberly Ferguson, quickly addressed the Spelman community.  Dean Ferguson stated, “In keeping with our practice to share timely information regarding campus safety, an email was sent earlier today notifying the community of a report of sexual assault committed off campus against a current Spelman student. Unfortunately, the language and content of the email did not convey the seriousness with which we treat and act upon reports of sexual violence. While the email was sent in good faith to keep our community informed and safe, we acknowledge that the treatment of the information was not appropriate and we extend our sincere apologies.”

Apologies are the first step.  Colleges and universities consistently apologize for sexual assaults that occur to their students.  What is the next step?  As many apologizes that are given, they are never fully equivalent to helping resolve the issue.  Yes, we have all heard the statistics but is Title IX really effective?  Are police investigations effective?  I know Spelman women who have been victims of sexual assault.  For each case, there has been no progress.  Do my Spelman sisters no longer get the freedom to walk around campus without fear of seeing their rapist?  Instead, they were ushered facts on how to further prevent sexual assault.  Is this what rape prevention has come to?  We allow our “safety” to tell us, as young, black women, to protect ourselves and travel in groups. 

Where is the rape prevention for males around the nation to NOT rape and to NOT sexually assault females?  Or shall the burden continue to be our cross to bear? 

It is an unfortunate circumstance that we all possibly know someone who has been a victim of rape.  Until we turn the tables around, women will always be told what NOT to do.  Until then, we will continue to see rapists walk around our campuses and receive emails about our “safety” in our college community.


Endia Hayes is a junior, Sociology and Anthropology major at the illustrious Spelman College. An aspiring college professor with hopes on earning her PH.D. in Sociology, Endia is a scholar activist and UNCF Mellon Mays Fellow who believes that through education anyone can change the world. If you see or know of an issue, take a stand because the world will continue to turn with or without your impact. She loves all types of music, however, she is convinced Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong are the best duo of all time. Les Miserables is the absolute BEST musical and no one can convince her otherwise.I am not longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept ~ Angela Davis
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