My name is Joanna Bourain and two and a half weeks ago I was raped by a student on campus. I took my case to the administration through the channels that they have set up for this purpose. The rapist went unpunished by the administration and still walks this campus. There is nothing stopping him from raping someone else. Even though I went through the administrative processes, no one ever told him what he did was wrong or illegal.
In the past two weeks, my life has been flipped upside-down entirely. I have had to take emergency contraception, get two HIV tests, and have repeated Gonorrhea, Syphilis, and Chlamydia tests. I have had to go to multiple meetings with medical doctors, therapists, and various deans all over campus. I have had to withdraw from a class. I had to skip work for two weeks. And all I was told in the end of this matter was that there was not enough testimony in order to make any kind of decision. I was supposed to feel reassured by the fact that it is a hard process for four strangers to sit in a room and try and conceptualize an assault they were not present for.
The rape culture on this campus is deeply internalized within our system of student’s sexual interactions. I sat through a one-hour skit of “Unspeakable Acts” during my first week at college but I was never sat down and explained what sexual assault was. I had to come to the realization by actually being assaulted. The title “Unspeakable Acts” is even more poignant to me, as the administration made me feel as if I should have kept my own experience an unspeakable act. Even after reporting it and going through the school’s justice system, I was denied my own personal experience of being sexually assaulted.
There is a serious disconnect between the infrastructure set up on campus for victim of sexual assault and the administrations follow through. Perhaps the fact that the two deans of students are both men makes it hard for them to conceptualize and personalize sexual assault beyond what they read and cases they encounter.