In late August just one day before the recent string of
campus sexual assaults began, a UF student reached out to President Machen by
email, asking about sexual violence and victim advocacy policies and programs
at the University.
The letter was inspired by The Other Freshman 15, a national organization that seeks to empower young people to take up the dialogue around campus rape culture. They provide a base letter for students to reach out to their campus leaders. Some of the exact text included, “Thanks in advance for your focus
on this issue. I'm eager to hear any updates from you on these actions or other
plans you may have to create a campus of respect.”
His full response was:
“Sexual assault is a very serious issue. It is too serious to be contaminated with
chain letters like yours. If you really care, do your homework and learn what we are
This response sent one day before the attacks is a real
representation of attitudes surrounding rape culture at the top of the
chain. A day later we found ourselves
bombarded with concern and misguided victim-blaming, and more
recently we've been offered escorts comprised of men who some of us already
fear. The public statements have changed
drastically since the all the media attention has started, but a day before his annoyance at being
asked about these issues is apparent.
Here's another thing - if this student was unaware of
existing programs after multiple semesters at the institution - are you really
doing an effective job promoting these programs? We’thinks not.
We are also highly disappointed with the response from the Gainesville Sun which further demeaned the student and her efforts. They released an article that was obviously intended to give the University a pat on the back and further shame this student. The article listed these stats in defense of campus policies:
Last year’s student survey showed that 4 percent of the 2,200 students who responded said they were sexually touched against their will, while 2.1 percent said someone attempted to force them to have sex against their will, and 1.1 percent said they were raped.
Let's look at these stats a different way using reports that UF has approximately 50,000 students, and assuming these survey's are representative of the student body.
88 students that have been sexually touched against their will
44 students who faced attempted sexual assault
22 students who were raped
When we account for the student population the stats change to:
2,000 students that have been sexually touched against their will
1,050 students who faced attempted sexual assault
550 students who were raped - more than one a day
If we go by national statistics that up to 60% of rapes are never reported - we can only imagine how much this number would increase. This doesn't sound quite as nice as 1.1% does it?
But back to the original point.... Contaminate? Chain Letter?
Well President Machen, you (and society at large) have inspired us into showing you just how a
chain letter can escalate into avalanche mode.
This is all about a bigger picture of rape culture and the dismissal of young women who attempt to use their voices. We can no longer allow flippant
and condescending comments from our "leaders"
when we speak out.
So feminists and friends - here's where we ask you to share this post with 5, 10, 50, 100 of your friends and encourage them to write letters as well.
We will not be shamed for actions of our aggressors, we will
not be bullied by administrative suits, and we will not be silenced into simply
accepting rape culture. What we will do
is create the infrastructure necessary to protect our own and join our voices
until policies have no option but to change.
Here's what you need to do right now to help! We cannot
stress the RIGHT NOW part enough!
Write a letter to the President and other administrators -
we'll take care of the printing and stamp cost you can come to the store and write it, email us, or facebook
us. Send your letters to Wild Iris so we
can coordinate the mail delivery to be an unmistakable visual representation of our displeasure. If you are comfortable include your name and
address, if not sign it Anonymous and make sure it still gets to us. (info-at-wildirisbooks-dot-com)
- We need donors to help make this work, if you'd like to contribute stamps, papers, envelopes, money for ink, sample text for people to use - contact us here!
Send an email with the same letter, you can find UF contact
Now is the time.
Please share through every social media
network you know.
If you or someone you know needs help, love, support, or
Start here, you'll be in good caring hands with Alachua County Victims Services.