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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

It’s okay to ask

<ay, I attended the Town Hall meeting in the Great Hall. I went planning to get information for The Carletonian’s article on the meeting and to eat some Kurry Kabab. As I listened to my classmates talk about what they want to see in a new discrimination policy, I heard a lot of good things and optimistic ideas.

I also heard something that bothered me. Many of the students who spoke at the meeting commented that they didn’t know anyone who has experienced any kind of harassment at Carleton. While they had great ideas about what they wanted a policy to look like, no one knew what kind of people this policy was going to influence. Many times, the Sexual Misconduct Policy was brought up, but again no one seemed to know anyone who had experienced sexual harassment or had dealt with the policy.

All the speakers are students for whom I have the utmost respect for participating in this conversation about improving Carleton. What they’re missing is that link between students at a Town Hall meeting and an idealistic policy:  those of us who go through any of these policies.

 Last year, I became one of these students. I was one of the last at Carleton to go through the old Sexual Misconduct Policy. I can’t say it was the most enjoyable thing I’ve ever done, but I can say this. I’m willing to talk about it. I had a very real experience on this campus, and I went through the system that so many people criticized.

I know people talked about what happened to me last year, and I know that no one really knows what actually happened or how I felt about it or how I made the decision to pursue action through the college or how any of this changed my life. Even my best friends don’t bring it up, and I don’t blame them. People walk on eggshells around me and I get that. I understand that no one wants to make me relive the worst few months of my life, but I decided something not too long after it ended. I will always share what happened to me. You don’t need to know the details, but I want you to understand how easy it is for things like this to happen, even at this elite liberal arts college in Minnesota.

Carleton, this is my request of you. Talk about these stories. Don’t just do it when I’m not around and it’s easy to assume and judge. Ask me about it. Maybe you don’t care about my story, but I promise you that you know and care about someone who has been harassed or hurt or discriminated against.

Since I’ve started talking to people (or forcing people to listen to me) I’ve discovered an entire network of people just like me. We’re here; we’re in your classes, on your sports teams, editing your newspaper. For us, make Carleton a safer place. Make it easier for us to talk about what happened to us and why we’re still angry, and don’t be afraid to ask us questions.

Not everyone is as willing to share as I am, but we all desperately need to be able to if we want to. Create the kind of community where it’s ok for us to talk. Policies are great, but they can only do so much. When the process is over, the aftermath and attempt at recovery begins, and that’s where this thoughtful, intelligent student body can actually do something. If you take nothing else from this, please, get one thing:  have these difficult conversations and listen when people want to tell you their stories. Most importantly, stop Carleton from being a community whose student body shies away from the people to whom these policies matter the most.

Devin Daugherty is the Editor-in-Chief of The Carletonian.

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