Despite Administrative Efforts, Rape Culture Persists Between Morehouse and Spelman
Courtesy: Melissa Golden (BuzzFeed News)
Courtesy: Melissa Golden (BuzzFeed News)

By: Anita Badejo – BuzzFeed News

The afternoon of Nov. 11, 2015, in the Atlanta University Center (AUC) was meant to be a quiet one. The day before, students and faculty at the consortium of historically black colleges — which includes the all-women’s Spelman College, all-men’s Morehouse College, and co-ed Clark Atlanta University — had flooded Morehouse’s recreation center to hear Vice President Joe Biden speak as part of the “It’s On Us” campaign, the White House initiative to prevent sexual assault on college campuses. They had listened as he implored college men to play a more vocal role in addressing issues of sexual violence — victims of which are still predominantly women and members of the transgender, genderqueer, questioning, and not listed communities — and had dutifully snapped photos and posted them to social media along the way. But now, the vice president was gone, and campus life had resumed its steady rhythm.

Melanie, a Spelman junior, was thankful. Having spent much of the previous day waiting for Biden’s speech, on top of October’s frenzy of midterms and homecoming preparations, the international studies major was drained. A sexual assault survivor who reported being raped by someone she considered a friend at Morehouse her freshman year, she was at once frustrated that she’d had to leave the Biden event early to go to class, and already wary of what she had heard — Morehouse President John Silvanus Wilson Jr. describing the college’s “zero tolerance” policy for sexual violence in his remarks and Biden’s booming declaration that “no means no.”

After all, Morehouse had handed off Melanie’s case to an independent investigator based in Massachusetts who, without ever meeting her in person, concluded she hadn’t been raped, despite the fact that both parties agreed Melanie had said “no” repeatedly. Later, she’d learn that the college also classified her reported rape as a case of “simple battery.” Like most Spelman students who are assaulted by a peer from Morehouse, Melanie was raped on the latter’s campus, so her own college had no jurisdiction over her case. She’d been struggling to make sense of it all ever since. Sure, it was nice that the vice president had visited. He and people like Wilson talked a great talk. But she knew the AUC had a long way to go before they could properly handle cases of sexual assault, an issue students — particularly at Spelman and Morehouse — had been discussing for decades.

Read the full story – “Our Hands Are Tied Because Of This Damn Brother-Sisterhood Thing


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