Contributor: Meghan Mckenzie via Facebook
Today, I was an audience member of a panel of various James Madison University administrators, where we got to ask them questions about the future, leadership, life advice, the JMU experience, and things of that nature.
One of my peers asked them what JMU was doing in order to better handle sexual assault cases and stay out of national news due to poor handling.
One man, answered as follows:
"First off, what is in the news isn't always correct. Students never have the full story. JMU is obliged to tell the truth, but students can make up stories and it might not be the real story. You shouldn't believe what you see in the news from students." WRONG. He was essentially accusing rape victims of embellishing their stories.
"Second, no one ever looks at both sides of the story. If my son made a poor decision, I would want to keep it under wraps and keep it as a family issue." WRONG. When you decide to sexually assault someone, you give up your right to privacy. You give up your right to not be embarrassed/ridiculed for your actions. When someone is sexually assaulted, their rights are the only thing that matters here. You give up yours when you forcefully take away the AUTONOMY and DIGNITY of another human.
"Third, you should look at the consistency of the administration. Only the few negative outcomes make the news, because all of the positive ones aren't sensational enough." WRONG. I was bewildered that this man just implied that rape was "sensational".
I felt completely disrespected as a woman, and as a student today. Most importantly, I realized this issue is far from over, because the problem is so deeply institutionalized. This really showed me that if the issue of sexual assault is ever going to get better at JMU, there are people with outdated and negligent mindsets that need to be re-educated, or replaced.