A lot of balls are up in the air right now. I’m waiting for colleges, I’m waiting for graduation (23 days!), I’m waiting. And that’s okay. Because while I wait, I’m putting my time to good use. Obviously I’m still doing classwork (and there’s a fair amount of it) but I’m also doing a little investigating, a little snooping. And it all stemmed from classwork, so in the end-is it really that bad?
I watched a documentary on college campus assaults and since I go to an INCREDIBLY large university (second largest in the US by enrollment numbers), I thought perhaps I should learn a little bit more about the rates on my campus. Turns out, that is an incredibly deep rabbit hole that I am only just beginning to flesh out. While I am doing so, I’m coming to a lot of really confrontational data, some of which I think can be remedied pretty easily. For instance, the search menthod of the daily crime log (as mandated by the Clery Act) could be easier to navigate-by searching for type of crime (such as body violation, or sex crimes) instead of searching for crimes by name (I searched “sexual” crimes and the list did NOT include rape, stalking, domestic violence or menacing). But there are still questions I have about the number of crimes. For example. I was made aware of a menacing account that took place on Wednesday (April 5) but there is no record of it on the daily crime log (which is against the law). There are reports of “administrative information”-what does that mean? There are records of “refusing to cooperate”-what does that mean, and in what context does a person “refuse”? There are a couple names that come up repeatedly (perps) over a span of a couple years, for sexual crimes-why? What qualifies as “unfounded”? What does “ill-aided” mean? Why are cases from 2001 still pending? What’s the difference between pending and active? Why does 9-1-1 redirect to campus police instead of CPD? What is being done about the locations which have been “hotspots” for sex crimes for over a decade?
I’m still in the really early stages, as I said. I’m having trouble locating the older annual safety reports, as they have been removed from online. Which means that once I compile my questions, I’ll be taking a trip down to campus security to have them explain to me what’s going on (or as much as I can convince them to anyway). I don’t know that I have anything to find, but if I find something, I need to make sure I understand what it is that I actually find. Bottom line: I don’t know if there’s anything to find, but if there is, it’s gonna be huge.
I’m not trying to make waves-I’m trying to make changes. Because here’s my thoughts.
I would rather have problems be presented up front, with solutions and options than have problems swept under the rug. I want to know the faults of a process, rather than be blissfully ignorant. I am entitled (gasp) under the law (Title IX) to equal access to safe education. If information is withheld that would otherwise hinder my safety, or access to education-that is against the law. Universities know that. Title IX issues are a BIG deal-especially right now. Do I expect to find a problem? I hope not. Will I actively pursue action if I do? Absolutely.
First thing’s first. I’m going to collect all the data I have access to and check the reports against the annual safety report. If the numbers match, then I will focus on the question si have above (and more). If the numbers don’t, the real investigation begins. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t have a vendetta against the college school system (student loans are a different story) but I do have a vendetta against rape culture. Fair and safe is the only way to progress. And even as I wait to begin my life as a rape culture smashing DA, I can do my part.
Because as I learned recently, it isn’t entirely the fault of the patriarchal laws that govern our country. It isn’t entirely the fault of the judges who see “potential” in rapists and “blame” in victims. Rape cases don’t go to court because there aren’t enough DAs (District Attorney) who will take the cases. That news hit me like a rubber bullet. The very thing I want in life is the one thing we have a dire need for, and is something I must wait to see happen.
In the meantime, I’ve applied to the spring program, and I altered my application a little. I’ve decided that it will be in my best interest to get a dual degree. So I applied for a JD/MSW, allowing me to both practice law and be a licensed social worker. I need to be able to combat this on all levels-and if spending an extra year in education is what it takes, then I will absolutely do so. I want to use everything I’ve got to make the world a better place. Focus on religious minorities. Focus on LGBTQ+. Focus on nonbinary genders. Focus on men and women. Focus on justice. And I will.
Because I know I can make a difference. I just have to believe.