The article “Dear Harvard: You Win” describes the pain a young Harvard student experienced after being sexually assaulted by another student, someone she thought was a friend, and her frustration at not being able to open a case against him under Harvard’s antiquated harassment policy.

The Harvard policy, published in 1993, failed to provide a comprehensive definition of consent.  As a result, the victim was unable to claim she had been sexually assaulted under the policy’s limited language.  This meant she was powerless to make a claim or force the alleged perpetrator, who lived in the same house, to move.  She was told, however, that she could move. To do so meant leaving those closest to her, who provided the emotional support she so desperately needed.

So she stayed and became clinically depressed, fell behind in school and dropped out of all activities. The article details her feelings of being completely degraded and belittled by faculty and administrators who were never trained to deal with victims of sexual harassment or were too worried about protecting the university and hence themselves.

As a young woman about to enter her first year of college in the fall, this article was a wake-up call.  Not only did it sadden and even horrify me, but it forced me to investigate the status of my own college’s policy.  In so doing I learned that my future alma mater, Connecticut College, created a Think Safe Project a few years ago which defines “sexual misconduct as any sexual contact or activity that occurs without the informed consent of any individual involved.”  The policy also provides prevention education, intervention strategies, victim advocacy and support resources.

So fellow university women, check out your school’s policy.  If they don’t have one, create one.  If the policy is narrow, move to amend it. While no policy is perfect, for me, knowing that Connecticut College has individuals extensively trained to assist with sexual assaults provides a piece of mind. The last thing anyone suffering from violence wants to hear, especially from a school official, is that the student who raped you didn’t know what he was doing.

To read the anonymous article click here