What will it take for the United States to understand that sexual assault is an epidemic? How many silence breakers do we need for the government to listen?
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It’s a Friday night at a Temple University frat party. It smells like sweat and beer, the humidity leaves stains on black crop tops, and everyone’s downing shots of Bankers. There’s a 10-minute line by the bathroom because inside, girls are snorting cocaine off the sink.
My dad and I are unusually close. When I was nine, my mother died following a six-year battle with breast cancer. In many ways, experiencing something like that at such a young age was a curse, but it also bonded me to my father.
This summer, I told another girl that I liked her for the first time.
I’m the girl who wrote the sorority article. For better or worse, that’s the piece of my writing that most people on Penn’s campus have read. I publicized upsetting details about rush that the Panhellenic officials probably won’t tell you: getting cut, the exclusionary nature of Greek organizations, and some of my troubling encounters along the way. But I also shared many of my own flaws.
World-class professors, a rich array of extracurriculars, engaging classes, and countless career opportunities — these are probably the things that come to mind when most people think of a Penn education. These are the qualities of this university that you will find on campus tours and admissions packets.
I’ve never had sexual feelings for a Penn faculty member, nor do I plan on having a romantic relationship with one. So, I wasn’t too upset when, last week, the University banned sexual relations between faculty and undergraduates.
Penn students never fail to boast about our reputation as the “social Ivy.” What we’re less willing to admit is that we’re also a “safety Ivy,” stuck in the “middle tier” of rankings, somewhere in between Columbia and Cornell. But beyond our U.S. News & World Report ranking, at our core, we’re insecure.
It starts with the girls you see on Locust sporting sweatshirts emblazoned with Greek letters. Maybe a few of them are in your classes and seem nice, like people you might want to be friends with. On the weekends, you see them at the fraternity parties you go to. And then the fliers from off-campus sororities start to pile up under your door.
Our generation likes shortcuts. Instead of challenging ourselves to remember, we Google facts that escape us; we participate in text wars to dodge the awkwardness of confrontation; we ghost people to express our anger or disinterest so we don’t have to engage in difficult, honest conversations. Hookup culture is just another shortcut. It’s how we avoid the pain that comes with romance.
During my first week at Penn, someone told me I’d never be happy here.
During New Student Orientation, I, along with all of my classmates, was required to attend panels and information sessions about sexual assault on campus. To my surprise, many students skipped these events, and a large portion of those who attended spent the whole time giggling or on their phones.
To download or delete; to swipe right or swipe left; to ghost her or slide into her DMs. Why didn’t I match with her? Am I unattractive? Will I ever meet anyone? These are the questions we constantly ask ourselves. They’re exhausting. And we need to take breaks.
At Penn, we like to complain. We criticize the University’s hypercompetitive culture, lack of mental health resources, and social scene that feels very Greek-centric. These are extremely important issues that demand attention. And we, as a student body, have done a good job of holding the Penn administration accountable for their mistakes in order to promote policy change.
GROUP THINK is The Daily Pennsylvanian’s roundtable section, in which we throw a question at the columnists and see which answers stick. Read your favorite columnist, or read them all. If you would like to apply to be a columnist for the Spring semester, please fill out the columnist application here.
My surroundings, both on and offline, tell me that I should be having a good time at Penn.
In a few weeks, Penn’s early decision applicants for the Class of 2022 will receive their admissions decisions.
About a month ago, I published an article in 34th Street Magazine, telling my friends, family, and the Penn community that I am bisexual.
Penn is cutthroat. Its academic prestige and emphasis on pre-professionalism attracts ambitious, determined students. Their desire to succeed here, paired with factors like forced grading curves and unnecessarily stressful club culture, can have the effect of pitting students against one another, thus fostering unhealthy levels of competition.