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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

CAASHA Speaks Up in Light of Amherst Rape Revelation

< weeks ago, Amherst College students and college students nationwide were shocked when an Amherst student released a personal account of sexual assault in “The Amherst Student,” the independent newspaper of Amherst College.

The lengthy and highly detailed article revealed the student’s troubling experiences after she was sexually assaulted.
News of the article and its alarming content spread like wildfire, as readers began sharing the story and their reactions.

Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds erupted with article shares and status changes by college students, freely expressing their surprise and disturbance.
As the news made its way into the Carleton bubble, Carls followed suit by initiating a dialogue between students. The Wednesday after the article’s release, Carleton’s Campus Advocates Against Sexual Harassment and Assault (CAASHA) held a discussionst in the Nourse Lounge, inviting Carls to share their reactions. Approximately twenty students showed up, all with the desire to simply talk about the article.

Many students commented on the frightening fact that Carleton and Amherst are not all that different. They are both very small, liberal arts colleges with similar students and academic standards. Therefore, it is not hard to imagine a similar event occurring at Carleton. Some attendees commented on their agitation towards the lack of support from the Amherst administration.

“We picture the administration to be this invisible guarantee that will always have your back, but that might not always be the case,” observed one attendee.

Another student remarked, “Reading about what happened to this girl at Amherst, I feel like we have it good at Carleton.”
In reality, when comparing Carleton to other national colleges, Carleton does well when compared to the tales of schools with rumored “rape trails” and “rape houses,” which create societies that seemingly encourage violence against women.

Considering such cultures, Carleton’s community, with its marketable catchphrase, “Consent is Sexy,” seems safer. However, a joking and even teasing tone oftentimes accompanies this popular slogan. Some CAASHA members indicated concern over the lack of sincerity in the use of the phrase: “It’s okay to joke about it sometimes, but when it comes down to it, students need to really believe that consent is necessary.”   

According to the campus reports of sexual misconduct complaints, most Carleton students understand the seriousness of consent. This past term, Carleton’s Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response office received three formal complaints of sexual misconduct policy violation. This past year, there was over fifty submitted community concern forms.   

In comparison to Amherst College, Carleton’s administration takes sexual misconduct as a serious threat to students’ health, and earnestly tries to prevent sexual harassment. Furthermore, the administration puts forth its information, making sure to email its students the statistics of the previous term’s reports.

“Many schools are looking to Carleton as a model worthy of consideration,” said Joe Baggot, Associate Dean of Students. “My colleagues are often receiving queries for additional information and/or asked to present at conferences and meetings.”

However, in the end, it is impossible for the administration to completely eradicate all cases of sexual misconduct.   “Support systems need to be ready when these things happen,” remarked one CAASHA member.

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