Letters to the Editor do not reflect the editorial opinion of The Daily Free Press. They are solely the opinion of the author.
To the prospective Class of 2020 (and their parents):
It’s that time of year again. As Commonwealth Avenue pulses with freshly warmed spring air, prospective students see a particularly bright version of Boston University. As you all make your final decisions for attending college in the fall, I urge you to consider the following matter:
This time last year, my friend wrote an anonymous letter to the editor disclosing the details of BU’s mishandling of her rape case. BU did not take her letter seriously.
My friend reported what happened to BU’s judicial committee. Her assailant was found guilty before being allowed to return to campus as if nothing had happened.
I chose to forego the traditional option of reporting to BU’s judicial committee after seeing how it failed my friend. One year later, nothing has changed in regard to BU’s callous policies.
I will not rehash the details of what happened to me. The BU administration will use such information against me to protect my assailants. You may be thinking, “How do you know if you haven’t tried?”
By the time you finish reading, I hope you’ll understand.
The Monday before spring break, I had a panic attack in my dorm due to flashbacks and consistent nightmares of being raped and murdered. A concerned neighbor called BUPD. Three white cops, two male and one female, arrived and entered my room. I was on the phone with my mom trying to end my panic attack, but their unwanted entrance rattled me.
I handed my phone to the cops so my mom could speak with them. I continued to cry. BUPD asked me if I wanted to see someone at SARP or SHS. I declined. BU counselors spent more time asking me if I was suicidal than understanding that I was raped and then left for dead by the administration.
I told BUPD that they were failing women on this campus every day and that I refused to file a police report. One cop attempted to coerce me into filing a report, insisting it could somehow help. I knew better and refused. In an effort to substantiate myself as an intelligent human being, I did, however, disclose my knowledge of their mishandlings:
BU is under federal investigation for mishandling rape cases, along with more than 100 other schools across the nation.
In the fall, BUPD sent a text to the student body regarding a rape that happened in the residence hall across the street from the BU police station. The suspect was not apprehended — in the building across the street from the police station.
I told BUPD I did not want to go to the emergency room. They called the paramedic anyway. Knowing that I had no choice, no autonomy, I walked to the ambulance and climbed in myself.
I arrived at the hospital in the afternoon. After sitting on a stretcher for hours next to someone who had peed their pants, I was moved to a closet-sized space. I waited.
A few hours later, a doctor came in. I explained that I was raped on a campus that locks up victims in the ER during panic attacks. I told him that I wanted to get out of the hospital as soon as possible.
Hours passed and he finally sent a psychiatrist into the room who described the symptoms of bipolar disorder and asked if that sounded like me.
I’m not a doctor. I can’t diagnose myself with anything. I described my trauma to him. He concluded that I had PTSD from being raped.
No s—, Sherlock.
A family friend was contacted and soon arrived for my release. We were held in the hospital for hours, waiting. I wasn’t released until after midnight.
I spent the night at a friend’s. My room was polluted with BUPD’s power to remove my bodily autonomy.
Spring break came, and I was all right until I had another panic attack at the end of the week and missed my flight back to school. By the following Wednesday, Dean Elmore had sent a letter to the entire BU community discussing the rape epidemic on campus along with an optional rape survey, only days after learning that I did not return from spring break due to rape trauma.
Dean Elmore reached out to my family before that email was sent. The email was a slap in the face. It did not discuss new sanctions for rapists and did not define the act as inexcusable or punishable.
My story is different from the one that came out last year in many ways, and yet, still so similar. At a time when BU could have respected my wishes and left me to deal with my panic attack with a trusted family member, it hospitalized me, booked me as an involuntary transport and stripped me of my bodily autonomy.
To the administrators who routinely ignore Sexual Assault Awareness Week (SAAW):
Even BUPD shows up — on your behalf, to police survivors.
Dean Elmore and Katherine Kennedy were extended handwritten invitations for the SAAW “Let’s Talk About It: Open Mic Night,” which takes place tonight, Thursday, April 7, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Morse Auditorium. Should they choose to actively ignore the invitations this year, the message will become loud and clear: They don’t care about survivors on this campus.
Whatever support systems that are in place for survivors are only for show and inadequate. Campus rape is a daily occurrence at BU, not a rarity.
The survivor-shaming climate of this campus has only gotten worse in the year since the last letter to the editor. I can’t understand how a dean with a black daughter could turn a blind eye and a cold shoulder to women just like her who have been violated on his campus.
Luckily, I will be on my way out of here soon. I am no longer a scared freshman, bullied into silence. I am learning to reach out to the part of the BU community that is concerned for the well-being of all women within it.
I choose to leave this behind as I exit. As I watch eager young women of color tour campus, I must provide the information you will not receive from your tour guide, Multicultural Community Weekend, orientation week or the Howard Thurman Center: #ThisCouldBU.
As you make your decisions this month in regard to where you will attend in the fall, please understand my warning: Once you step foot on this campus, your odds of being raped increase dramatically underneath a negligent administration.
The girl in your dorm whose smile never reaches her eyes