We constantly come up against social injustices that we recognize as wrong and illogical. The victims of these injustices in many cases have no one to turn to, especially if they worry that if they gather their courage and attempt to stop these abuses, they will face retaliation. Even if there are places of refuge to go to, they may feel uncomfortable doing so.
As I wrote this, I admit that I was afraid. At a time when Baylor is recovering from a scandal resulting from not reporting sexual assault on campus, I wondered, how much am I allowed to say? What if by saying something, I’ll be hurting my future career, or even nearer than that, harming my education at Baylor? What if I try to talk about something important but end up saying nothing? What if I’m ridiculed because I didn’t say it well enough?
But then I realized that this self-censoring atmosphere has to stop.
On the behalf of these victims, we must create a dialogue about these injustices on campus. Because if we who are not victims are afraid to even mention the topic, how much more difficult must it be for them?
At the same time that Baylor is attempting to implement the recommendations of Pepper Hamilton, an independent law firm that was hired to investigate the university’s handling of sexual assault cases, sexual assault has become a taboo topic on campus. References to sexual assault in conversation have been extremely vague. Alluding to the sexual assault scandal as “what happened during the summer” has become part of common rhetoric.
The general consensus is that everyone knows what happened, but no one wants to talk about it. Students are afraid that by speaking publicly about sexual assault and how it has changed Baylor campus, they will harm their reputations or otherwise get in trouble for having their opinions. Particularly, a student’s right to speak about the implementation of Title IX recommendations is becoming increasingly ambiguous, especially in the wake of the resignation of former Title IX coordinator Patty Crawford.
When students hear Crawford’s claims that Baylor didn’t listen to her concerns about the handling of Title IX recommendations, they may conclude that they cannot address the issue. However, students being afraid to speak about the situation simply adds to the atmosphere of secrecy created when Baylor did not report incidences of sexual assault in the past. Voicing your concerns quietly to close friends feeds into that atmosphere of secrecy.
There will never be a perfect time or place to address sexual assault. Waiting for the optimal moment only allows more time to pass when these injustices could be stopped. Nor is there a perfect individual meant to speak out. Everyone has the potential inside them to say something. Yes, there will always be someone smarter, braver and stronger, but you should say something despite that. Even if you don’t have all the solutions, you only need one.