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Civic Engagement Education

Today in Rape Culture: UNL Edition

Sadly it comes as no surprise to most of us that rape culture is still alive and well in Nebraska. Survivors of sexual assault at UNL will no longer be silenced or ignored and they are speaking out with a new website and flyers everywhere from a group of warrior survivors at Dear UNL https://www.dearunl.com/

On April 15 the Daily Nebraskan published an article called ‘They’re just trying to keep us quiet,’ A Title IX Investigation which detailed some pretty horrifying things sexual assault survivors on campus have had to deal with while working with the Title IX office which they thought was on campus to help them. The most glaring problem about the whole situation is of course that the Title IX office’s purpose is not to help survivors of sexual assault, but to help make sure the University isn’t held responsible for it. And there you have rape culture in a nutshell.

As seen at the Telegraph Mill today. Look for them everywhere

Sexual assault survivors who went to the Title IX office for help were instead asked if they had been drinking, were told to stay away from their attackers if they didn’t feel safe, and were even told their attackers did not violate the UNL code of conduct so there was nothing that could be done. That’s right, apparently being a rapist does not violate the UNL code of conduct.

In his response to the DN article, Chancellor Ronnie Green preferred to focus on the changes that had been made such as having more counselors available for longer hours but said absolutely nothing about how UNL was working to change the culture or how it was going to commit to keeping students safe from assaults. Instead he talked about some half-assed plan– following “best practices at other institutions of higher education”– to theoretically help survivors cope with the trauma of their assaults after the fact. If this is the best institutions of higher ed can do, they’ve got some serious rethinking to do.

His personal email response to 20 of the 21 survivors who reached out for help was even worse (the 21st survivor got no response at all). In it he suggested the survivors reach out to the Chief Compliance Officer of UNL, whose job is to ensure that UNL is in compliance with federal directives like Title IX so that they don’t lose federal funding. He reports directly to the CFO. His job is making sure UNL keeps the money flowing in, not working with survivors or making sure women are safe on campus. And is it possible that in 2019 we are still telling victims of sexual assault their only option is to email some random man they don’t know so this random man can make a decision about whether they should feel safe on campus or not? Hey pro tip everyone: If someone has been sexually assaulted, chances are 99.9999% the aggressor was a man. Stop making survivors of sexual assault explain their assault or how they feel after an assault to a man. It’s condescending and it’s infuriating and it’s entirely fucked up.

But I digress. Now is the time for UNL to do something real to keep their students safe on campus and provide REAL education and support, not just some bureaucratic office which is there mainly to make sure UNL doesn’t lose funding for fostering an acceptance of rape culture on campus. What’s being done to change the culture, UNL? We stand with survivors.