Via the SAFER blog, there is an update of sorts on the Ithaca College rape case, where the school determined that a Resident Adviser had raped another student, but let him keep his job anyway — even while admitting that an RA caught using drugs would be terminated.
Student newspaper The Ithacan, which original broke the story, has published quite a few letters to the editor on the subject, and some are worth taking a look at. Though I was profoundly disappointed to see this rape apologist letter, I do have to give the editors credit for publishing eleven letters and letting only a single “what about the menz” one through.
First up, Ithaca faculty and staff members wrote a letter voicing their support for rape survivors and their concern over current school policy. Good for them — I’m glad to see that there are indeed some responsible individuals working for the university. A snippet:
We voice our concerns on behalf of those who have experienced sexual assault and rape as well as those who feel a sense of outrage in response to the article. To that end, we ask our administration to respond swiftly to the issues raised. Our students and colleagues have the right to a safe and secure campus environment where rape is not tolerated and where there is no confusion as to its seriousness. We stand in solidarity with the IC Feminists, SAFER and resident assistants in seeking changes supportive of those who have endured the pain and suffering of rape and ask that efforts be undertaken across campus to address this issue in the near future.
Next, there is a letter from a former Resident Adviser who was actually fired for smoking marijuana on school property. Nope, the suggestion that an RA would be fired for pot use was not hypothetical. He has some interesting things to say — namely that while he accepts the fact that he fucked up, broke the rules and lost his job for a decent reason, unlike a rapist, he was posing absolutely no danger to the student body:
But what is ResLife thinking? Do they have the audacity to believe that they’re somehow above the law? Again I make no excuses for my behavior; it was illegal, but isn’t rape? I had one week to pack and find a place to live at the tail end of the semester. I guess I posed such a threat that unless I left pronto I was going to get everyone high.
And lastly, the most important letter of all. Bonnie Solt Prunty from Residential Life responds:
Although I cannot speak to the specifics of the incident from last year due to federal laws that require the confidentiality of student records, I do want to clarify statements made in The Ithacan article. When asked about actions that could result in immediate termination of an RA, I intentionally used the example of a drug-related violation in order to avoid any confusion with the specific case at hand. In no way was I trying to infer that Residential Life takes drug violations more seriously than sexual assault. This is absolutely not the case.
Of course, she doesn’t explain why the hell we should believe her. If they don’t take drug violations more seriously than sexual assault, the student body deserves an explanation for why the fuck someone smoking pot would be fired and someone who admitted to rape was not. She doesn’t have to discuss the specifics to do that, she only has to explain how it would, in any possible scenario, be considered acceptable. And though she intends to “review [the] standards and make changes where necessary,” she doesn’t voice support for a zero tolerance policy, or imply that the school will work it’s absolute hardest to ensure that nothing like this will ever happen again. Because that would require admitting that what they did was wrong.
The victim deserves more. Every student who lived under that RA deserves more, as do the students who were never told about the rapist in their midst, because he knew his victim and was therefore deemed to not be a threat. (Aside: what the fuck do we deem rapists who know their victim to be less of a threat? They’re the ones who are less likely to go to jail, who make up the utterly huge majority of rapists, betray the trust of their friends, girlfriends, acquaintances, wives and families. They are the ones who terrify me the most.)
Bonnie Solt Prunty is the director of Offices of Residential Life and Judicial Affairs. This was and is her responsibility. Maybe she can’t admit wrongdoing due to liability issues. It’s highly plausible. But I’m wholly unconvinced that she even deserves to still have a job there. And regardless of that, the fact remains that women deserve better.