On Oct.1, Goshen College sent out an official email—a crime statistics report that the law requires colleges to send out to students, because apparently the state thinks that letting us know what happens on campus is a way of keeping us safe.
You might not have read it, but having that information at hand is both a right and a requirement. A lot of the files and columns on the website are those required by the Clery Act, which was first passed in 1990. It was named for a young woman named Jeanne Clery who was raped and murdered on April 5, 1986 in her residence hall room. The Clery Act was brought about because her parents wanted to give students on campus the right to know what happened to her. Not a name, just an acknowledgement that stuff does happen and we need to know about it.
But how does any of this apply to Goshen? This is a safe place—just look at the statistics report! All right, so a couple people were stupid and got busted for having drugs or alcohol on campus, but theft or assault or rape? Naaahhhh. That never happens here. Many of you heard the Goshen Monologues last year. Those stories are probably just plain old poetic license, right?
I’m a first-year, and I’m not one of those exciting people who exercises their freedom to drink and make merry, but I don’t stay in because I actually want to go to sleep early on a weekend.
Can I tell you a secret? It’s because I’m scared.
I’m scared because, even though Goshen really is a safer place than anywhere I’ve been, we still talked at the beginning of the year about staying safe. We heard, “if you go to parties, find a buddy.” But why would anybody say that if we were safe already? Why ask us to stay safe when the numbers for forcible and non-forcible sexual assault for the past four years are all zeroes? No assaults on campus, campus residence halls or on public property. And rapes in off-campus student housing… that’s so unimaginable it doesn’t even merit a column.
Well, you don’t tell people to protect themselves against things that haven’t happened. You tell people to stay inside during storms because there was some poor kid that went outside and got hit by lightning. By the same token, colleges tell men and women to find a buddy at parties because of people like Jeanne Clery.
So, my dear fellow Goshenites, why did I hear about someone who was raped and then see blanks on the report? Do the record keepers really not know about these things? We have SMRT (Sexual Misconduct Response Team), but what’s the point if sexual misconduct isn’t reported? We cannot accept the pretense that all is well when we know it’s not.
Come on, GC, you can do better. Please, keep your students both safe and informed. Admitting that bad things happen is a way to fight against them. And fellow students: ask Goshen College to honor its commitment to transparency and integrity and dignify us with the whole truth, not just what the law requires.
We want to know what happens, and I ask that we dignify those victims of assault and rape by giving them acknowledgement and letting them know that they do not need to stand alone.