Addressing views on sexual assault

Photo courtesy of PAUSE

We are PAUSE (People Against Unwanted Sexual Experiences), and we are tired. We are tired of seeing you use your news source as a means of posting harmful opinions that at the least, do a disservice to our student body and at the worst actively harm survivors of sexual violence. Publishing poorly worded, unsubstantiated articles is not only dangerous but also a false representation of our campus’s beliefs.

Over the last year, you have posted multiple stories that both directly and indirectly promote a victim-blaming climate that diminishes the heinous crime that is sexual assault on Tech’s campus. Starting with your article, “Expelled student speaks about his OSI ruling” in October 2015 (Volume 101, Issue 13), you have cultivated a sense of animosity towards the survivors of sexual assault that chose to make the brave decision of speaking out against their assailants.

That following spring, in your April Fool’s edition, you posted a “satirical” article about banning alcohol from campus because it led to an increase in sexual assault (Volume 101, Issue 26). Sexual assault is a direct result of the assaulter, not alcohol, and it is no joke.

This fall, we’ve seen an article that dismissed trigger warnings (Volume 102, Issue 5), an article that very poorly defended the idea of feminism (Volume 102, Issues 4 and 8), and most recently, an article that fought for “assumed innocence” of rapists (Volume 102, Issue 12). While disappointed in these publications, we were very pleased to see your anonymous submission from a rape survivor (Volume 102, Issue 9).

We even brought up the story at our meeting to show that the Technique had some redeeming qualities that promoted campus inclusivity and a safe environment to discuss difficult topics. You can imagine our disappointment when the story had been redacted with no explanation. This was shortly followed by the publication of the “Assumed Innocence” article that candidly downplayed the gravitas of rape with no supporting data to fact check its validity. This most recent article of yours tells us to assume every accused person is innocent until proven otherwise, when statistics show that over 90 percent of claims are substantiated.  We are told to question the judicial system, which time and time again, has proven its inefficacy by allowing rapists their freedom with minimal consequence.

We would like to provide you and your readers with some facts, provided by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Fact one: One in five women and one in 16 men will be sexually assaulted while in college. Fact two: Over 60 percent of sexual assaults go unreported. Fact three: Only 2–8 percent of sexual assault reports are falsely made.

Why did your news source choose to publish an article that fights for assumed innocence when over 90 percent of sexual assault reports are proven true? By fighting for the rights and innocence of someone accused of sexual assault, you are simultaneously marginalizing the survivor. Having to endure the trauma of sexual assault and having authority doubting a survivor’s experience is the reason 63 percent of such cases go unreported.

The underlying problem is not in our judicial system but in how society views the injustice done to survivors of sexual violence. By having a news source that consistently victim-blames, discredits and creates doubt against victims of sexual assault when there are facts that say otherwise, you are siding with the 90 percent of rapists that you believe should be “assumed innocent.”

Technique, we challenge you to become a news source that has integrity and value when addressing such a serious topic as sexual assault.

To survivors of sexual assault, we apologize for the uncertainty our school casts on your experiences. We stand by you. We believe you.