Letters to the Editor

Expulsion versus apology

Although I have no association with Phi Beta Epsilon, I was intrigued by the story and letters to the editor from alumni. I was therefore especially sensitive to the difference in reaction, when I read the story of the Yale fraternity whose new recruits shouted offensive chants against women. “The young men, blindfolded, were marched through a part of the campus where female freshmen live while shouting, ‘No means yes, yes means anal!,’ among other inflammatory chants.” Obviously a huge uproar ensued. Per the story, (http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/2010/oct/15/dke-apologizes-for-pledge-chants/) the fraternity had apologized, and everyone seems to be trying to move on from this “unacceptable” incident.

­—Allison F. Dolan
Program Director, Audit Division

Support is available for rape victims

On October 7, there was a post on isawyou@mit containing a disclosure of rape. First and most importantly, we would like to thank the survivor who posted this. Thank you for making the brave decision to post on the site, and for drawing attention to the too often neglected issue of sexual violence.

Secondly, we would like to say how happy we were to see the responses from fellow MIT students to this post. It was wonderful to see a community response that offered support.

Notably, the post described an instance of rape that occurred between two partners within the context of a relationship, and one that occurred between two MIT students. A common misconception is that rapists are strangers who wait in dark alleys or hide in bushes, and attack unsuspecting women walking alone late at night. While this scenario has undoubtedly occurred, most instances of sexual assault are committed by perpetrators who are known to the victim and are often current or previous dating or sexual partners.

Some responses to the post encouraged the survivor to report the assault to police or take other legal action. But the road to recovery is a complicated one, and one that looks different for each and every survivor. While some may choose to report the assault to police or take legal action, others may have perfectly valid reasons not to report the rape. The survivor isn’t responsible to take action to prevent the perpetrator from attacking anyone; the only person responsible for any instance of sexual violence is the perpetrator.

MIT’s Violence Prevention & Response (VPR) program, part of Community Wellness at MIT Medical, supports survivors of violence in their recovery. We offer help with filing a police report, taking legal action, seeking medical attention, obtaining counseling, and a whole range of other services. We also support survivors who simply wish to talk to someone, or who aren’t sure what their options are.

Even though every individual is responsible for their own behavior, each and every one of us can do something to prevent sexual assault — through supporting a survivor, condemning inappropriate behavior, or simply demonstrating solidarity with the movement to end sexual violence. Contact VPR to find out how you can help. http://mit.edu/wecanhelp

—Kelley Adams, Greg Baker,
Duane DeFour, and Kate McCarthy
The Violence Prevention & Response Team