Two weeks ago, an article appeared in 34th Street written by a sophomore who has been raped three times at Penn. Did you read it?
First, we would like to thank the survivor for having the courage to write that extremely powerful article. As sophomores, we were emotionally wrenched, and stunned, that someone who has been here for the same amount of time as we have could experience rape three times - and twice within 10 days.
That the author is a sophomore makes it all the more real for us as sophomore men of this community: this survivor could be one of the many friends we know and love, and we refuse to sit quietly as this important piece is drowned out by other, less pressing discourse within the Daily Pennsylvanian and our everyday conversations.
Let us think about why this story has flown below the radar: Is it because rape is still considered a private issue? Maybe. But it is our responsibility as human beings to make it clear that rapists are not welcome in this community, and that rape culture will not be tolerated. Why don’t we want to talk openly about issues of sexual violence?
Rape is a difficult topic - no one is denying that - but if we avoid addressing rape and the culture that perpetuates rape because it makes us uncomfortable, how is that fair to the countless people who are assaulted during their time at Penn?
Maybe it’s kept quiet because survivors don’t want to share their stories. That’s totally understandable, and we would never push our friends to share something they don’t want to think about. But at the same time, we should all work a little harder to foster an environment where survivors aren’t marginalized.
By not actively supporting our fellow classmates, we’re letting their words be drowned out by trivial headlines. Penn’s ranking this year in the U.S. News & World Report. The hardship of seeing John Legend twice as commencement speaker. A quantitative explanation of why SPEC is too poor to afford Beyoncé for Spring Fling.
The front page of this newspaper, though, is a reflection of what the campus community chooses to discuss and prioritize. As a student body and administration, we are letting other things hold our attention, topics of lesser importance. We’re silencing this issue, letting the very real threat of sexual violence on this campus slip back under the radar.
When we let the issue go unnoticed, we’re allowing the powerful force of rape culture to take hold. Maybe we don’t talk about it because we don’t really think it is actually that big of an issue. Maybe “we don’t know anyone” who has been affected by sexual violence and therefore find it hard to become invested in the cause.
You probably do know someone; they just haven’t told you yet. You might even know the sophomore who has been raped three times. The least we can do is talk about it.
Braden Amundsen, C’16
Imran Cronk, C’16
William Dossett, C’16
Robert Lundquist, C’16
Jordan Rodnizki, C’16
The authors are all members of One in Four, Penn's all-male, peer-education group that focuses on sexual assault awareness and rape prevention.