Zero tolerance for sexual assault | The Triangle

Zero tolerance for sexual assault

Since the election of Donald Trump to President of the United States in 2016, conflict and tension surrounding the increased discourse on sexual assault and the awareness thereof has been on a steady rise. It almost feels as if the timing of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s public allegations against judge Brett Kavanaugh arrive at the climax of a heated political debate. Who will win? The world has been on edge regarding the decision of the Senate Judiciary Committee and both sides are getting heated.

What’s wrong with this picture?

In the past two years, the discourse on sexual assault, specifically regarding victims who come forward to name accusers many years after the alleged assault event, has grown. In the news we have heard of “great men” being accused of dispicable acts by women whose integrity, intelligence, and intentions are perpetually being called into question. We hear reporters and political leaders alike asking why these victims never stepped forward before. We read news stories which delve into all the great things men accused of assault have done. We see people of all genders, races, and sexual orientations speaking up with #MeToo, fiery arguments on social media, and people picking sides in various debates, all with different famous names, different women, different circumstances, and only one thing in common: sexual assault.

Why does it seem as if this has all become a fight between two opposing parties? Why has sexual assault become a political issue when it should have never been? Why is the debate being built around Us versus Them rather than all of us versus sexual assault?

Assault and rape are not political issues. Assault and rape are public health crises. They are tragic. They are real.

In spring of this year The Triangle editorial staff released an article regarding professor Robert Kane’s civil suite at Arizona State University (?) and composed an editorial demanding that the Drexel Administration change their hiring practices to add more stringent controls against hiring those with past sexual harassment, assault, or discrimination allegations. The practice of colleges and universities covering up sexual trauma allegations with expensive settlement price tags exchanged for turned heads and silence as strong as any PR staff could ask for is abhorrent, yet common. Drexel loves to remind us every sexual assault awareness month that we are a zero tolerance school; yet no comment has come forward from a single administrator regarding the flaws in our hiring practice in light of details revealed about Kane’s past. By not speaking up and hoping for nobody to notice its mistake, the administration is doing an enormous and onerous disservice to our Drexel community.

Pointing out flaws in hiring practices is not an attack on the university or its policies. Understandably, policies are often imperfect and go unchallenged due to an apparent lack of issues which warrant more stringent measures until something goes wrong in a big way. Our administration needs to stop hiding behind its “zero tolerance policy” and start defending the student body and Drexel community from a continued culture of ignoring victims and letting the accused off of the hook too easily. We cannot sit around with hurt feelings in a stalemate argument when we could all work together to demand a better response to sexual assault instead. This is not an argument with two sides – this is a call to action for us all to put aside our differences and work together to repair the deep hurt that tensions over sexual assault have inflicted. At Drexel, as well as our country, it is time to stop undermining victims who come forward and turning a blind eye.

Don’t pick sides; have a conversation instead. Remember that the only side that matters is all of us, together, against assault.