Rape Does Happen in the Middlebury Bubble

By Middlebury Campus

Author: Chris Shields

Rape happens at Middlebury! Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble who believed that a college as quaint and idealistic as Middlebury was free from sexual assault, but as a community we must stand and deal with the issue of sexual assault on our campus. It is in this spirit that I respond to Kevin King’s article in last week’s Campus. The “pop quiz” poster as well as the “1 in 4” posters that have been up around campus are a direct response to silencing of this issue. Last November, I met with President McCardell to discuss the issue of blue lights, or rather our campus’ lack thereof. One point that he made was when he referred to the annual security reports that state that there has been one recorded rape or sexual assault on campus for the past five years.

Forgive me if I view those members of the student body who continue to believe this as just as naive as I view President McCardell. Within the administrative framework of the College, one of the reasons that such lies continue is the lack of anonymous reporting. Survivors of sexual assault must give their name and the name of their attacker to the Department of Public Safety in order to obtain help, and Public Safety has proved to be completely inept in terms of handling cases of sexual assault that have been reported to them.

The other reason lies within the student body, and how we approach issues of rape. When radio DJs on the College station are allowed to freely discuss sticking sophomore women in the trunks of cars and taking advantage of high school girls, there is something fundamentally wrong with the way in which our campus as a community (not the administration but the student body) deals with issues of sexual assault. The posters, which by chance had no connection to Feminist Action at Middlebury (FAM), were a direct result of the frustration and helplessness that occurs when a college silences the survivors of such assaults. I would also state that these posters where removed by members of the custodial staff by the orders of the administration, heaven forbid a tour group or a trustee saw that there was indeed a darker side of Club Midd. I vehemently agree with Mr. King that issues of rape must be dealt with by both genders together. Rape is not simply an issue that affects women. For us guys, it’s our friends, our sisters and our girlfriends who are raped. The posters therefore should not put a “wedge” between the sexes, but they should unite us. Rape is an issue that affects the community as a whole, and an issue that the community as a whole must respond to. We must together demand that the process through which rape and sexual assaults are reported changes so that survivors can keep their confidentiality. We must hold each other responsible for our own words; rape can’t be marginalized, not even in the name of free speech. We must all stand together and demand that the administration deal with these issues, that procedures are changed so that we can obtain a true gathering of the number of rapes that occur each year. We must demand the immediate installation of blue safety lights, so that the women on this campus are able to walk freely around campus without having to be scared of the dark. We must break the silence.