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JCU Students Take a Stand Against Sexual Violence
by Dana, posted by IMC members Monday, Dec. 06, 2004 at 11:52 PM

There have been at least four incidents of rape or sexual harassment this semester alone at John Carroll University. Hundreds of students gathered to voice concern at an open-forum Monday December 6. There will be a rally Thursday December 9th at 12:15pm on the JCU Quad. The following is a letter written by one of the student organizers for the open-forum, submitted to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Dana Dombrowski is a journalism student at John Carroll University.

Dana M. Dombrowski
December 2, 2004

Disturbing—there is no other way to articulate the emotion of such distress, which now lurks upon a campus committed to “the greater good.” Regrettably, the comfort of the John Carroll Community has been violated by an act of the most deplorable kind. In a recent email and town hall meeting, the Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Affairs, alerted all students and faculty members of the rape and/or sexual assault of three female students. The email also brought attention to the possible use of a “date rape” drug and warned young women to remain aware of this potential threat. While the university is knowledgeable of the identities of the offenders, the only information that can currently be released is that they are males whom sit among us.

As Maya Angelou so eloquently expresses, “Each of us must care enough for ourselves to be ready and able to come to our own self-defense.” Today, these words resonate deep within my compassion for my fellow female colleagues. Rape is a crime of hate. It is a crime of dominance and it is a crime that undeniably targets women. Moreover, rape is a crime that masks itself with excuses.

Justifications parade in the midst of phrases, such as, “She was wearing a really short skirt…She danced like she wanted it…We were drinking all night…After all I paid for everything...Hey, she asked for it.” But the irrefutable truth is that there is never an excuse for rape. As a person, I should be able to wear what I feel attractive in, I should be able to express myself through song or dance, I should be able to go the big party and have a good time, I should be able to go out on a date with no strings attached—but, if anything, I should be able to freely act without the fear that my actions will implicate me as an individual who is asking to be attacked.

The issue at hand has been disguised as a warning to women—be very aware; someone could be using the “date rape” drug. However, this is not only a problem about the circulation of “date rape,” it is primarily a crisis concerning the attitude that males hold in regard to female sexuality. The objectification of women has become rampant in contemporary society. If John Carroll is going to take active measures against acts of violence against women, then the matter needs to be seen in its finest light. Thus, I would contend that not only should we alert the young women of our community to prioritize their safety, but we should address the issue of rape as the prerogative of both genders. In order to progressively conceive of the “greater good,” begin by cultivating a new attitude amid our male colleagues. By refusing to implicate men sends the underlying message that they are let off-the-hook.

The personal attack on the dignity of our friends is ultimately an attack on the freedom of the student body. Defend yourself. “Since life is our most precious gift, let us be certain that it is dedicated to the liberation of the human mind and spirit…Beginning with our own.”—Maya Angelou.

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