Miami works to move forward after rape flier
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 29, 2012 22:10
Miami University, long known as a “Culture of Champions,” is striving to be known for a “Culture of Mutual Respect” as well.
This comes after a student or students posted an offensive flier titled “Top 10 Ways to Get Away With Rape” in a men’s bathroom of McBride Hall two weeks ago. The university announced in a letter sent out to parents Monday that it is investigating the student(s) believed to be responsible for the flier. According to Claire Wagner, associate director of university communications, the investigation is not complete so no students have received disciplinary action. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) prevents the university from releasing more details, Wagner said.
Miami University President David Hodge sent an email to the student body Wednesday, assuring recipients that those responsible for the flier would be held accountable.
“Such a reprehensible act is the antithesis of Miami values,” Hodge said in the email. “Whenever we face such an incident, however, it can serve as a catalyst to deepen understanding and create an environment that is safer and more welcoming for everyone.”
Initially, Miami received criticism for not responding to the flier in a timely way. Members of Women Against Sexual Assault and Violence (WAVES) were the most vocal in asking the administration to alert students to the flier and to find ways to prevent an incident like that from occurring again. Members also noted that Miami’s Sexual Assault Prevention Coordinator Position had been vacant for nearly a year.
In the email, Hodge announced Miami would fill a full-time position that includes the vacant Sexual Assault Prevention Coordinator position. The position was previously part-time.
Barbara Jones, vice president of student affairs, attended a weekly WAVES meeting Tuesday, Oct. 16 to address these concerns. At the meeting, members of WAVES questioned why the university chose to send an email to the entire student body Nov. 2010 lambasting an “Indian Theme Party” that was advertised among Miami students on Facebook while choosing not to alert the student body via email over the rape flier.
“I want Miami to send out an email to students,” junior Kate Van Fossen, the student who initially brought attention to the flier and vice president of WAVES, said at the meeting. “It’s important that students know about resources but also about what we’re going to do in the future. Our intent is to change the culture on Miami’s campus and campus culture in general.”
Since, members of the Miami University community have been brainstorming ways for Miami to move forward.
Amanda Diekman, a psychology professor at Miami, started at Tumblr page called “Top 10 Ways…” The site encourages members of the Miami Community to post new “Top 10” lists.
“I started the site as one example of how our community could invite a range of opinions about the kind of place we want Miami to be,” Diekman said. “I don’t want the voices of Miami to be those of disrespect and hate, but instead voices of love and honor. I hope each of us finds a way to highlight the strengths of compassion, intelligence and creativity of our campus community.”
Diekman said she believes this is a duty for all people at Miami—from President Hodge to the newest first-years.
One of the lists on the site titled “Top Ten Ways to Get a Woman to Actually Want To Hang Out With You” suggests “Respect, Respect, Respect—for her, for you, for women, for men. Live it up!!” The list concludes with, “Love and Honor. Don’t Just Say It.”
The Women’s Center will be holding teach-ins to discuss how students can change Miami’s culture, according to Gail Walenga, assistant vice president of Student Health Services.
“It’s another way to have a voice in where we go from here, and the fact that faculty is involved in this is critically important,” Walenga said.
Members of WAVES believe changing the culture surrounding rape and sexual assault at Miami is crucial. At the weekly WAVES meeting Tuesday, members discussed the idea of consent and how to ingrain the concept in Miami students. The women came up with the idea of a “culture of mutual respect”— one in which both men and women are engaged in the situation.
“There should be enough respect that if one person says ‘no’ the other person needs to respect that and move on,” one member of WAVES said.
Members of WAVES said they had a constructive meeting with Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Susan Mosley-Howard. Mosley-Howard did not respond to multiple interview requests.
For Megan, a rape survivor and a sophomore at Miami who asked to go by her first name only, changing the campus culture surrounding rape is critical. Megan, who attended a different university her first year, was raped in a bathroom at a house party by a complete stranger. She dropped out of school for the remainder of the semester.
“It’s really hard at first because you kind of get scared of everything,” Megan said. “You learn to never walk anywhere by yourself and you just present yourself as a statue, you don’t let anything out and it’s influenced how I am here. I want to get the word out about this. I don’t want other men or women to go through the experience that I did. It’s been over a year now so I’ve gotten better about it and I’m through the healing process so I’m ok talking about it and being an advocate for awareness.”