I was a commuter. A quiet girl. I went to school and then I went home. Sometimes, if I was feeling particularly social, I’d go to game night. Yeah, I was wild in college.
Even then, I knew to be careful going to Pi Kapp.
[bctt tweet=”Sometimes, if I was feeling particularly social, I’d go to game night. Yeah, I was wild in college. Even then, I knew to be careful going to Pi Kapp.” username=”wearethetempest”]
Pi Kappa Phi was a fraternity that my school, Stockton University, no longer recognized. I’ve never been to one of their parties. However, I was told by multiple people to watch my drink if I ever did go. Now, years after that warning, multiple women have come out about the sexual assault they experienced on and off campus at Stockton University. Many times, they were assaulted at the hands of members of this rogue fraternity, or at their notorious parties. They all have chosen to remain anonymous, known only by their initials. Now, the school is facing numerous lawsuits claiming Title IX violations in the university’s handling of the cases.
Title IX is a part of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, and protects folks from facing gender discrimination in any school or activity that receives federal funding. Title IX considers discrimination on the basis of gender to include sexual assault.
The lawsuits detail students being assaulted on video, with the footage shared on Snapchat. They detail women being stalked, with little intervention from the school. They detail Pi Kapp’s “ugly girl” tax: either pay fifteen dollars to get into the party, or flash your breasts.
This all sounds really familiar, doesn’t it?
[bctt tweet=”Their rule? Pay fifteen dollars to get into the party, or flash your breasts.” username=”wearethetempest”]
We know rape and sexual assault happen so often on university campuses. So often women are supposed to bear the brunt of this. Don’t get too drunk. Make sure your friends are nearby. Don’t go to boys’ dorms alone. Don’t let them into yours without roommates present. There are so many rules to being a woman that associates with men. It becomes overwhelming. You feel confined. It wears you down.
Many of the incidents found on campus and off campus have occurred with freshman girls. These girls are first learning to navigate living alone, away from home. We have to stop blaming women for men choosing to prey on them, especially as they’re learning how to live. Men and boys should be accountable for their assaults.
Hollywood is being vilified for not saying anything about Harvey Weinstein. Women passed his name around, told each other to not be in the same room alone with him. In a way, many of us felt the only means of protection we had was this common knowledge. Sometimes it feels like we could’ve done more, though.
However, the school truly could have done more.
Pi Kappa Phi lost it’s charter in 2010, however, students were still members of the fraternity. Even though it was disavowed by the main organization, the parties and the pledging still continued. When these assaults were reported, many women were encouraged not to pursue litigation because it would be “mentally damaging”.
Stockton University claims it did all that it could. If that was true, students wouldn’t have been silenced as such. In one of the cases, a woman was assaulted in her dorm where loud music and under-aged drinking was occurring late into the night. Not once did an RA check up on her.
Stockton University is not the only school in which this occurs, and it probably will not be the last.
[bctt tweet=”Stockton University claims it did all that it could. If that was true, students wouldn’t have been silenced as such.” username=”wearethetempest”]
Students are taking action. This year marks the fifth year of Stockton’s annual March to End Rape Culture. The students running the organization sell ribbons and buttons, with proceeds going to the school’s Women’s Gender and Sexuality Center. They’re storming Board of Trustees meetings. And their voices are being heard.
The New Jersey Senate is introducing legislation to tackle campus assault, and making universities more accountable for the safety of their students. One would fine institutions that do not properly respond to accusations of sexual assault between students. These are the repercussions institutions need if they’re not going to do them on their own.