Letter to the Editor: Students respond to Butler’s statement on sexual assault

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In response to the recent IndyStar article and the subsequent statement from Butler University:

“The Community of C.A.R.E. is just an idea. The daily actions of our students, faculty, and staff make it real.”

This sentiment is ingrained into every Bulldog, and, while we truly feel that our university has been an environment that lives up to these ideals in our years as students and as employees, we do not feel that way today. Today, we can’t think of anything else besides the woman who came forward and who was failed by our university. Today, we can’t stop thinking of the cowardly, rehashed response from our president. While the words President [James] Danko gave ring true, they also ring hollow. Empty platitudes don’t excuse the missteps and the mistakes that the university has made in sexual assault cases on our campus and, as a result, trust in the university to properly address sexual assault has been deeply weakened.

All eyes are on Butler today, and other institutions will be waiting for our response. President Danko informed us that we are “examining what other institutions are doing to address sexual violence on campus,” but that sentiment goes both ways. This woman’s story has given us a platform, and if Butler manages to get this right — to have the right conversation and to make the changes that need to be made — it will set the tone for the universities watching us to follow suit.

“Concern” requires more than stock statements — it requires compassion. The statement from President Danko does not so much as mention the victim, nor does it offer any insight as to how the university is working to make our campus safer in the wake of this. There is no indication to be found through any official channels as to what the university is doing to provide a safer and more caring environment that would make victims more comfortable coming out. That is unacceptable and shows a complete and utter lack of concern for our student body.

“Assuming responsibility” applies to every single member of our community. That means both student body and administration. We have had too many conversations with friends, peers and co-workers who have been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted on our campus in their time at Butler to feel comfortable in not addressing this story. It is our responsibility to write this and it is your responsibility to provide improved resources for victims in a more accountable way.

“React” means that we need to adapt what is, at this moment, a clearly failing setup. Reacting appropriately requires us to take three steps:

1. Butler University must provide Timely Warnings following reports of sexual assault, regardless of whether it was reported initially or not, and to also provide students and faculty with the location of the alleged sexual assault, whether that be a dormitory, Greek house, or any other location within Butler’s jurisdiction.

2. There needs to be increased transparency regarding the University’s response to these issues. We need to know, as a community, what you are doing differently to prevent sexual assaults on our campus and care for and assist victims when we have failed on both of those counts

3. And there should be a scheduled voluntary public forum for our students and faculty to address point two.

“Evaluate and Follow-Up” is an obligation for us, as a community to have this conversation, focused specifically on our university. While we have loved Butler and our time spent here, we love the people that we have become close with in this community far more. Some of your students can’t afford to just be “truly saddened” as you are. Some are truly terrified because they or someone they know have gone through what this woman did, and we, as a university, have failed them. We can do better and we will be better.

Sincerely,

Chris Ebersole, ’18

Kasey Meeks, ’19

And Other Concerned Members of the Community

 

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