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Miami responds to student's victim-blaming tweets

On Thursday, Sept. 26, Miami University tweeted a statement in response to a student’s actions on Twitter, identifying him only as a member of the community. 

“Recent tweets from a member of our community about sexual assault are in conflict with the University’s Code of Love and Honor,” the university wrote in a tweet. “Victim-blaming and shaming has no place in our community and are incongruent with Miami’s core values.”

The university then added a link to a page with information about support and resources for survivors of sexual assault.  

The reason for the outcry?

Sophomore Connor Phlegar had tweeted that although rape is bad, if someone gets drunk, they’re putting themself in that situation. 

Phlegar was responding to a 60 Minutes interview with Chanel Miller, the sexual assault survivor from the 2015 case where a former Stanford University student, Brock Turner, violently assaulted her. 

Miller, who was referred to as “Emily Doe” throughout her case before going public, was attacked by Turner after she passed out. Some people, like Phlegar, responded to the incident by saying that because Miller had been drinking, she was the one at fault for her own rape. 

During a 60 Minutes interview, Miller addressed the critcisms and declared that “rape is not a punishment for getting drunk.” 

Her words have been plastered across social media since the interview. 

Phlegar replied to a tweet quoting Miller and wrote, “It’s not right to rape anyone, but she put herself in that situation, so she is suffering the consequences of her actions. I can’t really feel bad for her. The person that raped her is still a terrible person that should not have done that but it was her decision to get drunk.”

The tweet caused immediate uproar and garnered national attention.

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Phlegar later deleted the original tweet but posted twice more defending his stance. 

“She made a poor decision,” he wrote in his defense. “And I agree that the guy shouldn’t have raped her, but to say that she is completely in the right is false. Why would I feel bad for someone that openly made poor decisions under their own power. The rape was just a consequence of her previous choices.”

Twitter users tagged Miami University in Phlegar’s replies and told them to do something about it. 

One user tweeted, “Is this who you want representing your school?”

Phlegar then posted a final comment on his account.

“I have deleted that tweet, but I still stand by what I said. I should have worded my view differently and apologize if I have hurt any of you in any way … but I hope that we have all expanded our views on the topic of rape.” 

Each of his tweets had exponentially more replies than likes, and none had any retweets.

Phlegar did not respond to The Student’s repeated requests for comments.

Most of the backlash to Phlegar’s tweets was from non-Miami students, but students across campus were furious, demanding Miami take further action. 

But the university was unable to because of the First Amendment protections afforded to students and their social media posts.

Sophomore Chloe Alverson overheard classmates talking about the tweets and decided to look into them herself. 

“I was honestly disgusted,” Alverson said. “It was a really insensitive thing to say, especially with everything that's been happening on campus.”

Director of news and communications Claire Wagner told The Student that the tweets from the Miami account represented the school’s statement on the issue and declined to comment further.

Miami’s sexual assault resource guide can be accessed here. Along with information on the reporting process, the site offers advice on what to do if you or someone you know is sexually assaulted.

Sexual assault survivors who wish to report an incident can contact campus security enforcement, including the Miami University Police Department at 513-519-2222, the Oxford Police Department at 513-523-4321, the Coordinator of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program at 513-529-1870 and any athletic coaches, academic or student organization advisor. 

If students wish to speak to a non-mandatory reporter for confidential support, they can call or text Miami’s campus-based support specialists from Women Helping Women at 513-431-1111. 

@newellmaggie

angevims@miamioh.edu

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