Brunch is the ideal time to do it. Dinner is usually too crowded, and lunch and breakfast are so rushed that I don’t have the time. On any given weekend, I arrive at a dining hall past noon, usually with leggings and a warm, knit sweater. I swipe my card.
Then I count the amount of rapists in the room.
Girls at Columbia and Brown got in trouble for releasing lists with names of known rapists on their campuses. My friends and I have still considered doing the same, but we’re too exhausted to deal with the inevitable backlash.
I can’t speak about other campuses because I know only this one, but Yale has an epidemic. Each day, students fear for their safety as they walk across campus. Whether stepping into the library or taking a seat in a classroom, they’re reminded of some of the most traumatizing moments of their lives.
I think it’s true that you can survive Yale despite an experience of violence, sexual or otherwise. You can do it. I have endured Yale. But you shouldn’t be enduring Yale: you should be attending and enjoying Yale. Women and queer people aren’t thriving at Yale the way we should be. According to the Association of American Universities’ 2015 Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault, most of us here at Yale have been physically violated and intimidated. Among straight women, it’s over half; among gender-queer students, it’s over 60 percent. And according to Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, college-aged women enrolled in school “are three times more likely than women in general to suffer from sexual violence.” It’s not just one person running around committing all the sexual violence on campus — they’re all over.
Here at Yale, the Communication and Consent Educators program isn’t enough, and the University Wide Committee on Sexual Harassment and Misconduct isn’t working because this violence continues at an astonishing rate. When over half of your undergraduate female population is being assaulted, you have an epidemic.
We need more than just emails or long-term strategies aimed at transforming campus culture. We need immediate action and protection: The UWC must expel more rapists.
Every semester, there’s a new name for me to add to my Facebook blocked list. Every weekend, I take another look around a dining hall (my own and others’), and I take a breath. Since I started counting, I can’t remember a single weekend without noticing at least one rapist (that I know of) in the room. And they exist beyond the dining halls. They’re in our suites; they’re in our seminars and lecture halls. They live with our classmates. They sit with us at lunch. They show up at a party. Sometimes they are friends. Sometimes they’re Republican, and sometimes they’re die-hard feminist Democrats. Sometimes they’re men, and sometimes they’re not, but most of them are men who think they are entitled to another person’s body. And I have no more compassion for them.
When you commit an act of violence, you forfeit your privileges as a member of this community. And you should leave.
I’ve heard arguments from administrators and students who claim that rehabilitation is possible. This is an educational institution, and when people do something wrong, we want to give them a chance to learn how to be better. I’m sure that people do remedy their behavior. But second chances are for midterm papers. Yale should not apply the same principle to those who violate my classmates’ bodies.
What I’m suggesting may seem incomprehensible to some readers. But over 50 percent of UWC cases result in no action — and I doubt it’s because 50 percent of the claims are unfounded. In 1996, the FBI reported that only 2 percent of rapes reported to law enforcement were false. There is very little incentive for anyone to invent trauma, and it’s improbable for people to imitate its effects. This suggests that at Yale, huge swaths of rapists are left off the hook.
If you commit sexual assault, you are a perpetrator of sexual violence, and you are a rapist. That’s what you are. You shouldn’t be here.
Sometimes, I imagine a different Yale. I wake up on a Saturday, watch some TV in bed, brush my teeth and head to the dining hall. There’s a selection of real, whole bagels instead of the mini kind. I toast a cinnamon-raisin one. I slather on cream cheese. I sit down with my friends. I don’t see a single rapist. Then I go to Blue State to do work, and I don’t see a single rapist. Then my friends text me, and they don’t see their rapists. Then my friends go out that night, and they don’t get raped.
We finish our problem sets and read our books and participate in section, and we aren’t scared.
It would be beautiful.
Adriana Miele is a senior in Jonathan Edwards College. Her column runs on Thursdays. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .