Op-ed: Dear ResLife, please stop protecting and hiring perpetrators of sexual violence

Anonymous Student

Read a letter from our editor, Sam Seekings, about this anonymous submission here.

Weeks ago, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified in front of the Senate Judicial Committee about her experience of sexual assault perpetrated by then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Rather than believe Dr. Ford’s testimony, the Senate ignored her calls for justice and confirmed him to the Court. In confirming Brett Kavanaugh, the Senate prioritized the wants of perpetrators of sexual violence over the needs of survivors for political gain. The Office of Residential Life, in its failure to adequately screen its resident adviser applicants, similarly prioritizes the wants of perpetrators over the needs of survivors.

While it is important to emphasize that the vast majority of sexual violence on campus goes unreported, some survivors choose to disclose their experiences in the form of an official Title IX complaint or through the anonymous online Title IX complaint form. ResLife should believe the survivors and automatically remove applicants for the RA position who have Title IX complaints against them from the applicant pool. But rather than believing survivors, ResLife protects perpetrators of sexual violence on campus by allowing them to remain in the application process, and by hiring perpetrators to the ResLife staff.

The week of the Kavanaugh confirmation hearing, there was an RA Training Night, where RAs, RCDs and the Leadership Team met to discuss campus updates, policy and RA skills. October marked the beginning of the RA selection process; so, updates to this process were discussed in our large group discussions that night. When asked about the status of applicants with pending Title IX complaints, Ashya Majied, the assistant director of residential communities, responded that ResLife will continue to review and process all applicants with pending Title IX complaints because the applicant has yet to be proven guilty and, therefore, should be presumed to be innocent.

U.S. Senate: Kavanaugh hasn’t been proven guilty; therefore, he should still be on the Supreme Court.

ResLife: The applicant hasn’t been proven guilty; therefore, they should still be an RA.

While the possibility that ResLife could hire an RA with Title IX complaints against them is appalling, this concern is neither hypothetical nor abstract. Last year, ResLife hired an individual with an anonymous complaint against them. When this was brought to the attention of the ResLife Leadership Team, ResLife responded by having the individuals who made the complaint meet in person with ResLife Leadership Team members and tell their stories in detail. After coercing these “anonymous” individuals to tell their stories, ResLife finally rescinded their offer of employment to the person against whom the complaint had been made. While ResLife responded to every step of this situation inappropriately, this situation should never have happened to begin with. ResLife should not hire RAs with Title IX complaints against them, nor should they allow them to participate in the application process.

Despite the actions of the Senate, and the current political climate, our campus must take actionable steps towards being more survivor-centered. ResLife should believe survivors who file documentation against their perpetrators without coercing them to retell their stories. ResLife should support survivors by eliminating candidates for the RA position who have Title IX complaints against them. ResLife should stop protecting perpetrators at the expense of survivors and the safety of those perpetrator’s potential future residents’ well-being. The onus should not be on current RAs or on survivors to bring ResLife’s attention to the sexual misconduct of their applicants. Rather, ResLife should review all allegations and complaints against applicants without outside encouragement or intervention. Through their policies, ResLife and other institutions of power at this university are actively working to prioritize the wants of perpetrators of sexual violence over the needs of survivors.

While it cannot replace or compensate for institutional survivor support from the University, to all survivors of sexual violence: I believe you.

Read a letter from our editor, Sam Seekings, about this anonymous submission here.

  • John

    The author of this article embezelled money from me! I accused them so they’re GUILTY! Forget due process! How dare you not believe me, the survivor!