As my senior year comes to a close, I am almost forced to reflect on my college experience. I have grown tremendously in four years, and because this is my last blog post, I wanted to write a letter to myself as a young college freshman. Maybe this will be relatable. Maybe you will gain insights. Maybe this letter will spark similar memories. Perhaps, you will hate it. (I hope not) Whatever you take away from this post, I am going to write it anyway.
Dear freshman Makayla,
Your high school boyfriend is going to dump you.
Goodness, had we known that we could have saved ourselves some serious heartache. It is going to tear your heart out, and destroy your self-esteem. Here is my advice…please do not go looking for attention from other men. I know it’s hard. I know you just want to feel appreciated and validated. However, they cannot give you what you need. Girl, you need to build yourself up. Focus on you. Go to coffee with your friends. Go on walks. Cherish your alone time. Getting too drunk and hanging on boys at parties is not going to fix the hole he left. Love yourself first. Self-esteem was always a hard thing for us, but as a new independent adult, that is something we have to work on. You’re really awesome, and I promise you will figure it out eventually.
Stop selling yourself short.
(Senior Makayla is still working on this, so nobody is perfect.) You are talented and athletic. You are kind and you are smart. You are creative and you are friendly. These are important qualities, so focus on them. You have a great smile. Smile more often. Negative self-talk will get us nowhere.
It is senior week at Theta (my sorority, well actually, my women’s fraternity) and I am a whirlwind of emotions. I am excited to graduate and continue with life. However, I am also very sad to leave my friends and my Greek family. As I look back on my time in Theta, I realize how differently I thought about Greek life during high school and my first years in college…
I hated it.
No way. Not for me. I thought Greek life was how the movies portrayed it. Women judging potential recruits based on looks, partying all the time, and spending far too much money to make friends. I didn’t want to be part of an organization that crushed individuality and intelligence. I didn’t need that.
Sexual Assault is scary and unfortunately very real in every community across the United States. But it’s annoying when people categorize a certain group to be the only ones that commit these horrible acts. For example, “Mexican are rapists.” Which is not true for all Mexicans. Although comments like these offend people like me, who proudly identifies with being Mexican-American, we (News Flash!) also are affected by sexual assault. I notice too that it is extremely hard for these stereotypes to be broken when people with power have enforced such ideas onto a certain group. Among the many struggles the Latino community faces, rape and assault happen to be one of them.
In the Latino community, it is very common for men to praise other men when they have been with many women. So, this builds the self-esteem of these men when they harass a woman. When a woman does not desire to be with that man, one common thing I have heard is, “She is playing hard to get. She knows she likes it when I bother her!” Hence the terminology, Rape Culture! In an online article, I read about the way rape culture is a “Militarized Culture.” A form of oppression that is used as a weapon to degrade mostly women and it is also the notion that only certain people get raped, because of the way they dress and the way they act. In addition, Rape Culture includes not acknowledging that the men that rape are rapists.
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.
When I was a prospective student for the University of Idaho, I was told that U of I was safe. I was told that this is a great school because we are “one big family.” On the web site it says,
“UI is committed to creating a safe environment for the UI community and those who visit.”
I thought that the university cared about me as one of their students. I thought that I was seen for who I am–not just as a dollar sign. So, in my pre-college mind, if I were to be harmed in any way as one of their students, I assumed the U of I would be there for me.
When incoming freshman start their journey at U of I, they are essentially moving to a new home. They become part of the “Vandal Family.” (At least that is how they feel.) It’s exactly how I felt. U of I was my new home. The Vandals were my family. I would never expect one of them to intentionally hurt me, and if they did, I expected the university to handle it properly…
If we are a family, why wouldn’t you want to protect and stand up for every member?
A dozen University of Idaho students in the Planned Parenthood Generation Action group drove nearly 300 miles to the Idaho State Capitol to lobby a bill allowing women to receive up to a 12-month supply of prescribed birth control and promote better sex education on college campuses, according to the New York Times. However, when the students arrived Republican State Senator, Dan Foreman, canceled the scheduled meeting and yelled at the students.
“I’m a Roman Catholic and a conservative Republican. I think what you guys are doing stinks,” Foreman said in a video taken by a Generation Action member, according to The Argonaut.