Let’s Talk About This.
(click for the Jezebel post, and click for the original article in the Daily Princetonian)
Let’s talk about this.
I fail to understand how so many of you can be so passionately committed to the human rights of subaltern peoples all around the world but completely fail to give a fuck about the consistent - not occasional, not rare, consistent - rape of your daughters, your sisters, your cousins, and your friends.
Because here’s the thing: the most horrifying statistic isn’t that 1 in 6 undergraduates at Princeton report forcible penetration or sexual assault. It’s that the national average is 1 in 5. Yes. That’s the part that’s really shocking.
So why am I so upset about the Princeton report? The answer is the explanation given by Amanda Sandoval, the Director of the Women’s Center at Princeton, when she was asked why the report was never released. I quote Jezebel:
Amada Sandoval, Director of the Women’s Center, said the results probably weren’t released because it wouldn’t be fair for Princeton to get bad press when college campuses around the country experience the same rates of rape and sexual assault but don’t publicly announce them.
“Anything about Princeton goes international, practically, and no other universities do that, so does Princeton want to be the one to say that this many of our students are sexually assaulted? I don’t think so,” Sandoval said, adding that she thought there was no “real benefit” to releasing it because “a story that Princeton’s rates of students who have been assaulted is on line with national averages is really not a story” and “in this news environment, people would make a big deal about it.”
That seems like very faulty logic given that the point of the survey was not to encourage high school students to apply to Princeton’s awesome rape-free campus but to help the University “assess the need for survivor support and education services and to utilize the information to improve prevention techniques on the Princeton campus,” according to the data summary.
Did you all follow that? The report wasn’t released, according to the Director of the Women’s Center, because it might have accidentally brought attention to the issue that the report was intended to bring attention to. And because women are getting raped everywhere all across the country, it’s OK to be in denial about it.
Now, here’s the thing. I’m not an economist or lawyer or anything important. I’m just a teacher. But I teach at a top-tier school on the East Coast, which means that the students at Princeton are my students’ peers and the teachers at Princeton are my peers. And as a teacher who teaches at this level of the education hierarchy, I think that responsibility starts with us. I think responsibility starts at the top, with the institutions that have the most money, are most lawyered-up, are most immune to public opinion, and continually run bullshit press releases about being leaders in higher education.
And as a teacher who teaches at this level of the education hierarchy, I think my peers, the ones who teach these students, should be at least as outraged about this as about that little girl getting called a “cunt” a little while ago. And they should definitely be reporting this as heavily as they reported that episode of Girls where they quoted F. Scott Fitzgerald. Why aren’t they? Simple - because you can’t criticize Princeton publicly and expect to be invited for a guest professorship, right?
Why isn’t Jasbir Puar writing about this? Why isn’t Judith Butler writing about this? Where are all the outraged radical feminists when shit like this turns up in their own back yard? Nationwide, 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted during their time in college. I’m sitting here and calculating in my head how many of my students have been raped already or will be raped before they graduate, and I can’t in good conscience not say anything. I just wish I understood why more of my peers don’t feel the same way.