These are words from a South African protest song written in the 1950’s. Throughout history individuals have been struck physically and emotionally, but society never focuses on the strength it takes these survivors to get back on their feet and become “the rock.” Survivors of sexual assault (women or men) have plenty of horror stories to tell. But, they also have a lot of inspiring, hopeful stories highlighting how one copes and comes through to the other side of these events. I am here to share some of their stories.
The University of Idaho athletics department failed to take proper action when three female students reported sexual harassment and assault complaints against a football player, Jahrie Level. It took five years for the athletics department to admit it.
On November 14, 2012, police cited Level for providing alcohol to two underage females. According to the Idaho Statesman, the police report said one of the female students was taken to the hospital with a 0.36 blood alcohol content, bruising on her neck and knees, and scratches on her back. The police investigated the situation as a possible assault, but only pursued alcohol charges for Level and the female student. She told police she didn’t remember what happened and, her mother said she reported the incident to the University of Idaho Dean of Students office. Athletic Director, Rob Spear, said he didn’t know what happened until 2018.
According to the Idaho Statesman, six instances of harassment from Level were reported by female student athletes, Mairin Jameson and Maggie Miller. On April 8, 2013, Miller reported verbal harassment to the police and head football coach, Paul Petrino, after Level told her to come over so he could “slap the sh** out of her.” Although it’s reflected in the police report, Petrino claims he doesn’t remember. Spear said he was never informed.
It’s no secret that there is a lot of drama on the University of Idaho campus right now. Students are protesting. Students are irritated. Students want their voices to be heard and they want a say in how they are treated on this campus. Things are starting to heat up, and if the students don’t get their way, it may become an even bigger issue.
If you’ve been keeping up with the UI Women’s Center blog, then you already know about the drama surrounding Rob Spear and how the university is handling it. If you are confused, here is a basic rundown:
About five years ago, a female swimmer for the University of Idaho reported sexual assault allegations against a football player to the Athletic Director, Rob Spear. Spear decided to not report it to the Dean of Students Office and claimed because the assault happened off campus, there was nothing he could do to help her. It wasn’t until the female athlete went to the UI Women’s Center that the Dean of Students Office was informed. To this day, Rob Spear is still the athletic director at U of I and has only apologized this year due to pressure from the media. Groups of students have voiced their opinions and signed petitions stating that they want Spear fired.
There is obviously more to the story; however, this is what is causing all the ruckus on campus.
The issue is not necessarily with the university itself. When it was reported to the Dean of Students Office, things were sort of taken care of. The issue is also not with the athletic department as a whole. The issue is with Rob Spear and why the university has not terminated his employment after 5 years.
This is probably going to offend you. But that’s ok. I think it is a conversation that you need to hear.
Sexual assault is not new. People have been groped and touched without their consent for years. I am not a historian, but I’m sure cave people had to overcome some handsy fellow cave people.
We hear the victim blaming trope all the time: “What was she wearing?” “Were you drinking?” “Maybe you said yes, but don’t remember.” Yet, the assaulter does not receive the same reprimands. It is as if they are innocent of the actions they committed.
Trigger Warning: This post discusses multiple survivors’ sexual assault experiences and may be triggering for others who have also experienced sexual assault.
If you have been keeping up with the University of Idaho news lately, you will notice the attention a 2013 sexual assault case is getting. The Idaho Statesman recently discovered a survivor’s testimony on a blog site, and ran a story that covered the investigation. (Read here). Long story short, the survivors did not receive the help from the athletic department they needed. Both people involved were athletes at UI, but the athletic department only protected the assaulter. The survivors then went to the Women’s Center, and the staff there took the case to the Dean of Students for an investigation. The assaulter was no longer allowed to play football at UI. However, he is now playing for a team in New York (which I do not agree with, but that is a conversation for another day).
Throughout all of this buzz, I have heard some comments questioning why the survivor did not go directly to the Dean of Students. Some of these comments were in poor taste. Others were genuinely curious. Even though the two women who were sexually assaulted at UI chose to report their assault to the police and the athletic department, it is common for survivors to never report. But why?
Sexual Assault is real, people, and unfortunately, it happens everywhere. Including here.
As a college student, I walk to campus all the time. (Even at times where it can be very scary.) I can’t even tell you the times I have checked my surroundings, over and over again while going home, after a late night at the library. From wanting to listen to my music as I walk, but having to put only one headphone in, just in case. From taking classes to learn how to defend myself, because women, unfortunately, get put in danger more than men do. I must take an extra step and extra precautions, just because I am a woman. I always try to look for resources that can help me if a predator decided to attack me by surprise.
Not long ago, my sister told me a capability I was not aware of. On Iphones, you click the power button five times in a row and the image above will pop up. By sliding the SOS button on your IPhone, this will send your location to the nearest police station. I also have learned how to carry my keys between my thumbs. I even learned about a bra with a sensor in it that can alert the police if your heart rate is too high over a long period of time. (Signaling the police.) I must do this and many more things to feel safe. Even the way I act and dress. I always have to have an extra layer of protection before I can go outside because I am not sure what could happen. I should not have to live like this!! All women should have the ability to do whatever they desire.
My question is: Why do I find myself needing to do this? (Right, because I am a woman and because men don’t have to worry about these things. Right.) Also, in order to not get assaulted or raped I need to dress a certain way. I should not provoke him. Because, then it’s my fault. HELL NO! I shouldn’t have to do these things, to feel safe at night. A societal stereotype says, “It’s the victim’s fault for getting drunk and getting raped!” Why? Just why do I have to do this and not men? I don’t think this is fair to me and my peers.
Women should especially not have to conform or give up certain ways of dressing, or acting, to feel like we will not be raped or assaulted. It gets me angry that almost all of men don’t have to do this to feel safe. They do what they want. They act how they want. Because, society says that they are the dominant gender.
“I don’t watch the news, it’s all negative.” Comments like these are said every day to justify society’s apathetic attitude towards the press. But if everything on the news is negative, shouldn’t that spark our passion for combating these horrifying issues? Why would we choose to neglect the social injustice we see in media? We cannot afford to be ignorant of what’s going on in the world.
According to Sasa Vucinic’s TedTalk, 83-percent of the population on this planet lives in societies without independent press. This means 83-percent of the world doesn’t truly know what’s going on in their countries. These people are deprived of knowing their own reality. In the United States, the press and media give us the power to tell the truth. Continue reading “Truth is Power”→