Dartmouth Rape Protest: Punishing the Victims and Ignoring the Victimizers

Dartmouth administrators seem to think that disciplining student protesters is the way to revamp its Ivy League image. Just a month ago in April, a group of students interrupted an event for 550 prospective students to protest and accuse the college of mishandling sexual-misconduct cases, homophobia, and racism. Despite promises that protesters wouldn’t receive disciplinary action, the administration went back on its word and charged two-thirds of the protesters with entering the dining hall where the event took place after college officials told them not to. To add insult to injury, the head of the Undergraduate Judicial Affairs Office sent the notice the day before the last day of classes, too late for students to mobilize on campus and for The Dartmouth to mention it in their final issue for the academic year.

While the repercussions for the protesters have not been serious, the protesters still called out the university for disciplining them when no one, to their knowledge, has been punished for harassing and publicly threatening the protesters online. According to Jezebel, many “death and rape comments” were made about the protesters, and some threats suggested that the protesters be lynched and publicly executed.

While the administration at Dartmouth might have hoped to quell negative media attention, disciplining the protesters might have created a greater outcry than before. Administrators can no longer afford to weigh the costs and benefits of ignoring the needs of sexual-assault survivors. As a YouTube video of students protesting at the Dartmouth prospective student event goes viral, college students are getting connected to a national network of student activists working on raising awareness regarding Title IX regulations, and empowering individuals to file complaints at their schools if necessary.

These events at Dartmouth are among many other cases of students using social media to bring attention to sexual assault on college campuses. Just in the last two years, students at University of South California, Occidental College, Amherst, Swarthmore, Dartmouth, Yale, Wesleyan, and the University of North Carolina have all brought media attention to their school’s inadequate sexual misconduct policies and practices, and have filed Title IX and/or Clery complaints against their colleges. The movement against sexual assault and discrimination on campuses may just be unstoppable.

Soon, no college will be able to hide its sexual-assault statistics under the pretense that the college would be singled out for something that happens on every college campus, or sweep its Title IX violations under the rug. Colleges are being singled out by the bundle, by survivors themselves. Sexual assault on college campuses is already an issue of national importance.