Content warning: This column contains references to sexual violence.

SHARE is available to all members of the Yale community who Care dealing with sexual misconduct of any kind, including sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, intimate partner violence and more. Counselors are available any time, day or night, at the 24/7 hotline: (203) 432-2000. 

On April 2, University President Peter Salovey emailed the Yale community under the subject line “Your Yale, Your Voice,” asking us to complete the 2024 Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Misconduct and Resource Awareness. The third in a series of quadrennial surveys administered by the Association of American Universities, it aims to collect data on patterns of sexual misconduct on campus and shed light on possible strategies officials can take in response.

I took the survey and answered various questions about my awareness of, and past experience with, on-campus resources for reporting cases of sexual misconduct and getting help. The survey was designed to not only gauge the extent and nature of these incidents but also to assess the use of resources like Title IX, Yale Mental Health Counseling and SHARE. The questions implied that these resources were currently considered the best solution for victims of sexual violence.

When I answered one question by saying I did not reach out to any authority figure or healthcare official after experiencing sexual assault, the next question asked me to choose from a list of reasons why. I took a moment to remember how I felt at the time, and selected, “I did not think it would change anything.” 


Frankly, my responses to this survey were quite negative, and much of it has to do with an ongoing situation I have been involved in for the past three months. At the end of January, I found out that my coworker, who holds a leadership position at one of my student jobs, had raped and sexually assaulted one of my dear friends. My shift partner and I decided that we no longer felt safe with his frequent presence during our shift. We privately messaged him and asked him to be absent during our shifts. He refused to privately settle it, and involved administration, inciting an exhausting battle that we have yet to see the end of. 

Our workplace became a battlefield. He used his authority to humiliate us in the groupchat and harass us in the workplace. He falsely announced that we had been “terminated,” advertised our shifts as open for the taking and publicly accused us of breaking into and stealing from his room — an ironic accusation given his own alleged record of entering women’s rooms and touching their things without their permission. The situation devolved into a frustrating cycle: we reported our concerns to administrators, were given assurance of action, yet saw no change, and reached out to the administrators to protest anew. The administrators were clearly getting tired of this situation, but we knew they could have done more. I could list instances of men being transferred to different residential colleges, or were under threat thereof, as a result of their sexual misconduct being reported to administration. But the administrators balked at the prospect. Our faith in them dwindled by the day, and I realized that, despite what the survey implies by including faculty and administrators as sources of support, these people aren’t paid to care about sexual predators. We were just making their 9-to-5 more complicated. 

There was one particularly bad meeting where we brought up how our coworker breached the agreement we established through the employment office and was present at the workplace during our shift. Despite previous assurance from administrators that the agreement was binding, the story changed when the head administrator entered the room. It was the first time he had gotten involved, and his hostility and aggression made us deeply uncomfortable. He insisted that it wasn’t their responsibility to handle this issue, and emphasized that he had no agency in this, drawing an analogy to how one ought to report a robber to the police instead of exacting vigilante justice — as if one could compare a robber to a rapist. The administrator urged us to go to Title IX, the only authority that could help us. Another administrator, speaking “as another woman,” asked us why, if we were taking our safety seriously, we kept working at all. They told us the best solution was for us to find jobs elsewhere. 

I’m sure it was the easiest resolution for the administration. But for us, it was a matter of principle and solidarity as much as it was about safety. The idea that we should give up our beloved niche in our community to make space for a rapist was appalling. Yes, our working conditions became hellish the moment we raised our voices, and our ability to focus on academics and postgraduate plans has been impacted by this emotional rollercoaster. But we could never turn a blind eye to his character just for our own convenience as employees working under his supervision. 

My shift partner started crying in the meeting. We were drained and exhausted from what was happening. I numbly watched her shake and fight back tears in the face of the utter dismissal and hostility we faced from the very people we trusted to protect us and uphold some minimal threshold of morality. Several weeks later with no warning, we were told — after multiple reassurances that our jobs were secure — that we were fired for our own safety. 

Can you imagine something like this happening in a professional workplace? A woman reports an incident of sexual misconduct with her manager, he retaliates using his position of power, and after weeks of awful workplace conditions, HR suggests that she find another job? That happens. It is laughable, but that is exactly what happened to us.

This led to another meeting and more questions. Why were we fired from our jobs while he remained employed, exercising power and fear over the remaining workers? We had never said that we wanted to leave our jobs, which connected us to the rest of the community. We had only asked him to respect our shift, and he chose to retaliate and ostracize us. We saw this result as a punishment for speaking up against an authority figure and asked to meet with HR to resolve this issue. If there is one thing we are determined to accomplish before we leave, it will be to set a precedent for students to speak out against sexual misconduct and report dangers in the community without penalization. 

These situations are part of the reason why women are afraid and reluctant to come forward about their experiences with sexual assault and rape. The #MeToo movement was an attempt to shatter this wall of apathy and abuse of power, and for all of Yale’s virtue signaling and performative activism, we have a long way to go. 

I have long considered my voice to be my most powerful weapon. As I reflect on the treatment we have received as a direct consequence of standing our ground, I wonder: is it really “Our Yale, Our Voice” when we are punished for honoring our moral code and raising our voices against the wrongs we see?


My best friend has had a negative experience with Title IX in the past. After she had experienced sexual assault, a Community Consent Educator, or CCE, advised her to contact the Title IX office. The secretary picked up the phone, and asked her a series of questions: was he still contacting her? Was he in the same college? Did they have the same classes? As my friend continued saying “no” to these questions, she felt more trivialized and discouraged by the secretary’s apathetic attitude. Finally, the secretary told her she wasn’t sure what the office could do for her, as Title IX was mainly for initiating no-contact agreements. My friend said, “Everyone told me to go to Title IX, and it took me two weeks to work up the courage to do it. Then, when I finally called them and all of the buildup ended up like that, I felt dumb for putting so much emotional weight on even just picking up the phone. I just felt dumb.” 

The secretary was wrong; Title IX can offer other ways to help those who reach out, such as granting academic extensions or walking victims through the process of getting medical help. But my friend didn’t know that at the time, and this negative experience with the Title IX office prevented her — and me, upon hearing about it — from trusting them to help ever again. 

Seeking counsel from the Title IX office about this current situation — a decision we made under pressure from administration — was more helpful. This time, the conversation was with an actual Title IX coordinator. She listened to our story and, after consulting her colleague, informed us that the agency and authority to resolve the situation was indeed best placed with our employment office; they did have the jurisdiction after all, they just didn’t want to deal with it.

That was at the beginning of March. A month later, with only a few weeks left until graduation, we still had not been able to work a single shift since February. He continued to work in his leadership position and the rest of the student workers — even those we had considered friends — refused to stand up for us in the groupchat or help us return to our normal shift for fear of “getting into trouble.” He used his power to ridicule and ostracize us, and made us an example to the rest of the student workers: this is what happens when you stand up to the man in charge. 

They asked no questions and gladly took our empty spots, embracing the same bystander attitude that pervades our Yale community.

As much as I have watched the administration pass responsibility for resolving this issue around like a hot potato, I have also observed the culture of passivity or even outright antagonism at Yale in regards to sexual violence. People don’t care that their friends have raped and assaulted people: I’ve heard many students defend such friends. They say that the victim filed the Title IX out of jealousy; they say the victim was trying to seduce the rapist. They pity the rapist, who “should have known better,” for having to deal with the consequences of his crimes. They call the victim “the accuser” and ostracize her from her social circles because the rapist has “had to go through so much.” Seemingly well-meaning people still associate with rapists and sexual assaulters, and it is only when he faces legal consequences that they are shocked and finally cut ties. The cruelest part? They’re the same people who proudly call themselves feminists, and some of them are hired by the university to teach the campus about consent and sexual misconduct.

I recently learned that the CCEs — a position that has become decorative and performative for some  — are taught principles of forgiveness. They are taught by the school that everyone makes mistakes and can change for the better, that perpetrators should be forgiven. And those are the teachings that they disseminate in their campus education events, which fail to address sexual pressure and power dynamics. The perpetrator is given grace, while the bystanders pass the moral burden of giving a damn onto the next person in line. Passivity is the easiest sin to commit. And the victims — discredited, mocked and marginalized — must pass on, carrying the weight of the world’s peaceful silence. 

Stop saying that he “should have known better.” He does know better. We are far too old and smart to not be able to tell right from wrong, and I abhor this easy way to absolve the criminal of full blame and responsibility. We should know better. Why do we stand by? Imagine one voice raised in condemnation and protest, and another. Then more, and more voices that build into a roar, deafening those ears that refuse to hear. Our voices hold the power to dismantle this culture of rape and silence. 


Yale is where I discovered womanhood. 

I came here as a teenage girl, naive and full of lofty ideals about the justice of the world. Throughout the past four years at Yale, I have lived a fragment of the composite experience of a woman. I have experienced sisterhood. I have experienced love. I have also been date-rape-drugged, and I have also experienced sexual assault numerous times — not even realizing any of it at the time. I have struggled with myself and against others to make sense of my experiences and validate my emotions. It was only a few days ago that I realized how deeply I have been traumatized by my first experience thereof — which happened in a Yale dormitory. 

I have learned that recovery is not a linear journey: sometimes I move forward, but other times I shift to the side, take a step back, or even spiral downward. I think I am not trying to find a destination — there is no endpoint in sight, no happy ending. I am just fighting for the sake of living another day that might be better than the last. The womanhood I have come to know is painful, isolating, and frightening.

Dear Woman,

Yale will not save us.

There are resources at Yale to help us: health counseling, Title IX and more. There are healthcare providers and administrators that do care about helping us. There are students and faculty who are glad to provide support. But those all exist within a large and impersonal institution, structured by policies and agendas that revolve beyond the scope of the individual. In my experience, such policies and compartmentalization of authority can be counterproductive to making effective change. Navigating this impossible maze of bureaucratic red tape — being shuffled from one hand to another — can truly break a woman down. 

I speak with the gravest honesty and most sincere love for the women at Yale and beyond. Yale may not save us, and so we must save ourselves. We should not have to bear this burden alone, but of all things, we cannot trust our full weight to the larger institution, be it the University, the corporation that employs us or the government established to defend our rights. They will not move easily to protect us; they will not jeopardize their own power to save us. They may even punish us — and going through this struggle is punishing in and of itself. 

Dear woman, take the pieces of the institution that do aid you — its laws, its people, its culture — and abandon their rulebook: instead, use those pieces in tandem with weapons of dissent and protest. Build your own instrument of protection, your own manual of living. Your unorthodox battle will require you to question friendships and defy authority; it may put you under hellfire. You will break things, and that is okay. You will be hurt, and I am sorry. But you, do not apologize, because it is not a sin to fight for life.


A Woman

HYERIM BIANCA NAM is a senior in Saybrook College. Her column “Dear Woman” traverses contemporary feminist, progressive issues. She can be reached at  

Hyerim Bianca Nam is a senior in Saybrook College. Her column 'Dear Woman' will culminate in a composite exposition of womanhood at Yale. Contact her at