by Liya Rechtman

Sweeping It Under the Rug at Amherst

In Leviticus 19:16 we read lo ta’amod al dam rei-acha, “do not stand idly by while your neighbor bleeds.” And yet, for far too long on college campuses across the country, students have stood idle. Sexual assault and harassment are realities of belonging to a campus community. The act of forcing not consensual sexual activity on another person is a crime, punishable by imprisonment within the legal system. While the legal system can be used to pursue justice in cases of sexual assault, many victims of assault need to turn to college policy for their safety, because their cases do not have the physical or eye-witness proof necessary to be upheld in a court of law. The college policy then often acts as the only mechanism of defense and security for survivors of sexual assault. Yet, friends have looked the other way at parties, college administrations have consistently mismanaged disciplinary hearings on sexual violence, and counseling centers have been ill equipped to handle survivors of assault. This past spring, an off-campus Amherst College fraternity printed and distributed a t-shirt on campus that portrayed a woman being burned and roasted on a spit with the phrase “Roasting Fat Ones Since 1847” lettered above it. This past summer, a boy who had been assaulted on campus killed himself.
This semester at Amherst College, we decided to take action. We refused to stand idle as we watched our neighbors, our friends and our classmates, bleed in an uncaring climate and without the resources they needed to be safe and respected.

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