The Deep Dark Forest of Middlebury College

There is a trigger warning for this post and the accompanying comment section, which discuss sexual assault and institutional responses and non-responses to it.

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Art Credit: Annie Rodrigue

Nearly three years ago—on Wednesday, May 7, 2008—Middlebury students, staff, and faculty asked what we still consider to be a very important question:

Carbon-neutral by 2016; rape-free by...???

The Department of Public Safety’s Annual Crime Report tells us that there are still only a handful of reported cases of sexual assault at Middlebury each year. Likewise, our sexual assault policy remains the same, although—around 2.5 years after its inception—the Sexual Assault Oversight Committee has indeed presented a proposed new sexual misconduct policy to the SGA.

Our questions for you:

  • What are your thoughts on the complaint brought by Yale students against their university, alleging a Title IX violation because of the “sexually hostile environment” the school has created?
  • It’s been three years since our community called for quick action on these issues from the Administration. What can be done outside the Administration to combat sexual harassment and violence at Middlebury College?
  • Preceding the May 2008 protest was an online speak-out called “Mend the Silence” urging people to “tell [their] stories” and “discuss [their] fears.” What are your stories and fears of encountering the College around sexual assault and harassment (i.e., handbook policy, administrators, judicial trials and their results, etc.)?
  • How is Middlebury like Yale?

You can comment anonymously. We do ask that you be cautious about using names; initial comments must be approved before appearing in order to prevent harm to our community members. We also welcome feedback about this campaign, and invite you to our next meeting this Thursday, April 28, at 4:30 P.M. in Axinn 104, where we’ll be discussing this and much more.

*If you’re interested in receiving weekly e-mail updates on the work PGCOM is doing, sign up for our mailing list!*

*The People’s Gender Council of Middlebury is looking for new members for academic year 2011-2012! Click here for more info.*

7 thoughts on “The Deep Dark Forest of Middlebury College

  1. Anonymous

    1. Isn’t this a negative externality of our crumbling patriarchy?

    2. Is this discussion about sexual predators/serial rapists or victims of the hook-up culture?

    3. Since male and female (hetero-normative) sexual purposes are opposed, emancipating one inherently oppresses the other.

  2. Anonymous

    Perhaps something should be done to address why there are victims of a hook up culture. Shouldn’t we be taking steps to create a hook up culture that doesn’t inherently include cases of mistaken or actual assault?

    1. Anonymous

      how can a hook up culture not have victims? the rules are: find someone you can stand, fuck them, flee that night or the next morning, forget them.

      that’s the straight male dream scenario for maximum reproductive success. it leaves bastard children to be raised by their mothers, who are under threat from other males. even a modern women therefore has a deep-rooted instinct to retain the father to protect their new family from other males. when that doesn’t happen, the mother feels the danger manifested as sadness and loneliness.

      -2 <—– we should use numbers since everyone will be anonymous here.

  3. Anonymous

    It seems to me like this campaign is about critiquing systemic violence
    (“pervasive atmosphere of sexual hostility”), so I think whoever made these DOES want to talk about how patriarchy and heteronormativity still structure our sexual encounters, and they aren’t making any claims about “those predators out there”. And why does it have to be either predators or hook-up culture? What if it’s about the ways in which our institution and culture uphold male privilege and white supremacy by ignoring them, which ultimately means that we fail to proactively prevent sexual violence in the first place? Also, what do you mean by “emancipating one inherently oppresses the other”? I don’t think that dismantling oppressive systems is oppressive to the groups who are currently privileged by them, do you? I think the point is not to say that “only straight women experience sexual violence so we gotta reign in those bros”…the point is to say that the CULTURE here is sexually oppressive to MULTIPLE groups, and that instances of sexual violence are perhaps results of our messed up campus/institution.

    1. Anonymous

      there can be predators AND hookup culture, but the two are very different approaches to rape. the predator premeditates and will actively circumvent societal restraints on her behavior. the random hook up isn’t actively seeking to rape, she just doesn’t think or care much about how the other person feels, so her immature selfishness gets her into trouble. societal restraints can help here, as long as a few shots into the night she still remembers them and feels they are enforced.

      i’m curious how rape plays out in nonMF hookups, because i only ever hear straight female raped by straight male.


      1. Anonymous

        To answer your prurient interest politely…let your curiosity start with fingers and any other anatomical protrusion it likes and let it work its way to objects. The world is bigger than the binary, and everyone can be a victim, just as surely as anyone can be a predator.

        Also, I realize it’s a bit late in the conversation, but can I submit the term kyriarchy in place of patriarchy, and may I declare that my sexual purposes have nothing to do with my procreative desires, which are practically nonexistent?

        Now then, have we not gotten away from the topic, or rather, have we not failed entirely to begin it?

        As I have nothing useful to add to the main questions I’ll stop here right after I thank the council for making people who otherwise would have had no idea (like me) aware of the lack of movement in developing any new strategies to change the culture toward the positive. That having been said, I believe cultures are changed bottom-up, and not top-down, and so I will participate however possible in assisting the change we all should see.


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