Letter: Emerald should cover Sexual Assault Awareness Week correctly

Posted by Letters to the Editor on Wednesday, Apr. 25 at 5:19 pm.

Dear Oregon Daily Emerald,

You aren’t cute. You have a great tool, an independent newspaper, and as a student body we expect you to report accurately on things that are important. On Tuesday, April 24, you made a mistake. The article, “University community, Greek and non-Greek, needs to confront sexual assault (ODE 4/23/12)” was well-intentioned, we give you that. Yes, Greek Life (especially fraternity men) needs to step up and join the fight against sexual assault. We’ve been saying this for years. However, you missed the point when you said:

“‘(Some) women proceed to engage in skeptical decisions and wake up the next morning feeling extremely embarrassed or ashamed,’ she says. ‘I have witnessed so many circumstances where women claim they have been sexually assaulted because they don’t remember what happened or they ended up cheating on their boyfriends, and (they) use sexual assault as a justification and to reassure (that) their boyfriends won’t break up with them.’”

Survivors of sexual assault should always be believed. Survivors of sexual assault are being incredibly brave by telling you their story. So what if they were drunk, so what if you think they are a “slut” — if they tell you that they are a survivor of sexual assault, you believe them.  The greatest thing you can do to help a survivor is listen to them, respect their story, and help them when they ask. You don’t roll your eyes and ask them “wait, are you joking?” just like how you don’t ask someone who has just been stolen from if they give to charity a lot.

The survivors of sexual assault and their allies on this campus are tired of your patriarchal articles. Please cover Sexual Assault Awareness Week correctly, and do not rely on Letters to the Editor to say it for you. You are our newspaper, start acting like it.

Nina Nolen
Public Relations Coordinator, ASUO Women’s Center
ASUO Senator, Seat 15

Cassie Bruske
ASUO Senator, Seat 9

Emma Newman
ASUO Senator, Seat 16

Ben Rudin
ASUO Senator, Seat 19

Ben Bowman
ASUO Senator, Seat 8, ACFC Chair

Sam Brazil
Lieutenant Commander, Sigma Nu
SafeRide Dispatcher

Joanna Stewart
ASUO Volunteer Coordinator

Sophie Luthin
ASUO Environment Advocate

Whitney Logue
Sexual Wellness Advocacy Team Member

Michelle A Hyde-Wright
Sexual Wellness Advocacy Team Member

Alex Sonnichsen
Sexual Wellness Advocacy Team Member



  • Thank You

    Amen. I couldn’t agree more and THANK YOU for writing this.
    I truly appreciate that you sought out to confront the repugnance and misconception of Tuesday’s article.

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU

  • Really?

    Why “especially fraternity men?”

    In my fraternity we kick members out who even come close to harrassing women in a sexual manner. If one of my brothers sexually assaulted a girl, he’d be expelled and reported to police immediately. Greek Life at Oregon is very forward thinking and I would caution you to avoid tying us in with negative stereotypes when we make a massive effort to be a cut above the rest of the male ducks at the UO, which includes respecting women.

    That being said, I agree with every other aspect of this letter.

    • http://www.facebook.com/nina.moon Nina Moon Nolen

      Thanks for bringing this up, I did not know policies like this exist in fraternities on campus! I appreciate your input. I responding to how the article was written specifically for the greek community, and asking men to not make jokes about sexual assault.
      Also, I suggest that you and your brothers attend Take Back the Night tomorrow at 6 pm in the amphitheater! 

      • dkeade

        Hey Nina,

        I just want to let you know that I really appreciate your change in demeanor compared to your comments of the original article. I know from experience that things can get really heated when you’re trying to make the world a better place, but if you really want to change someone’s views, don’t name-call or yell at them; calmly but firmly correct their misconceptions.I do slightly disagree with your (and SWAT’s) view that the alleged victim is to ALWAYS be believed; if he or she has a history of crying wolf, I will be skeptical. Otherwise, in the vast majority of cases, I will believe her or him. You just need to acknowledge that yes, some people do lie about this stuff no matter how rare it is. And those people need to be held accountable.Thanks for everything you do!

        • dref411

          Agreed. Lying about sexual assault trivializes the despair of real victims and, in a way, plays into rape culture.

          • anonymous

            You don’t call them “victims”. They are SURVIVORS. There is a very large difference, and those who use the term “victim” are showing how uneducated they are on the subject and thus shouldn’t be throwing around uneducated comments on SUCH a sensitive topic.

          • Evan P T

            How do you know what they are? You must be some sort of magic genie to know how hypothetical targets of sexual assault identify. 

            Using the term “victim” is perfectly suitable when discussing any sort of assault. Nobody is uneducated. You’re just getting cranky about anecdotal semantics. 

          • Aleeder

            It should be up to each person to decide if they want to be called a victim or survivor. Stating that you have been a victim of an awful crime can be empowering.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=639434021 Kitte Lishuss

            Not half as empowering as being a Survivor.

          • anonymous

            How do I know? Read a book about sexual assault and how experts say is the best way to support those people. There are plenty of resources on campus you can go to who can educate you on this topic because it is complicated and complex and very sensitive: SWAT (they do trainings hint hint), Women’s Center, Men’s Center, Multi Cultural Center, LGBTQA, SAS, ect.

        • Helen Gallagher

          They need to be given the benefit of the doubt, surely? One of the insidious problems with sexual violence is that women are routinely disbelieved. Yet people don’t automatically disbelieve people who have been burgled, or had their car nicked.

      • dkeade

        I’d also like to point out that I don’t think the author was patriarchally motivated. Sexual assault isn’t about sex or gender; it’s about power and control.

        • http://www.facebook.com/nina.moon Nina Moon Nolen

          …Which Patriarchy is motivated by, just sayin. 

    • Guest

      This is a response to this article written by a member of Sigma Pi which was completely disgusting:
      http://dailyemerald.com/2012/04/23/university-community-greek-and-non-greek-needs-to-confront-sexual-assault/

      I am a member of a sorority, and I applaud Nina and the rest of the signers for taking a stand against the insulting allegations in the above article. She specificied fraternity men because this article was written for the ODE Greek page, targeting members of Fraternity and Sorority Life.

    • Ted Sweeney

      Yes.  Especially fraternities.  All men, and all men’s organizations, especially fraternities, have the opportunity and the singular responsibility to fight against sexual violence.  Indeed, as men, we are the only ones who can really do it.  Fraternities are among the most visible men’s organizations on this and any campus.  This is not an insult to men in fraternities.  It is very much the opposite.  It is a privilege and a sacred responsibility to be in the position which fraternities are in, to shape the values of men.  It is your responsibility as a man, and mine as a man, to both model and fight for what it REALLY means to be a man.  That is by modeling and demanding behavior that eliminates sexual violence.  Asking for consent with honor and bravery.  Stepping in to and definitively stopping situations which could lead to sexual violence.  Teaching these values to younger men, to men that don’t seem to get it.  Most sexual violence is committed by men, and it is therefore singularly up to you, and me, and every man and men’s organization, especially fraternities, to do everything in our power to become visible forces against sexual violence.  I greatly appreciate your policy as you describe it.  Do not rest on those laurels.  Continue to strive to be a visible and positive force for the end of sexual violence.  That is the great opportunity you have as a fraternity member and therefore a shaper of the values of men. This is a sacred responsibility of which you should be very proud and protective.

      • Ashleyk

        To piggyback off of what you have said:

        It is especially important that this awareness and sensitivity is addressed within fraternities  especially because they have such a presence on our campus. Most men do not commit sexual assault, but most perpetrators are men.  I would suggest listening to this video that the daily emerald did of the 100 man march yesterday for Be That Guy. 
        http://dailyemerald.com/2012/04/25/video-be-that-guy-sexual-assault-prevention-marches-on-campus/

    • Jackson

       I am really glad to hear your house has this policy.  That is awesome.

  • guest

    You are not accurately portraying it yourself, let’s be honest. You’re suggestion of believing every single person who claims to be a survivor is absurd. And for your charity analogy, that only addresses how to not interact with someone who speaks out to you, not the validity of their claims. In essence, what you are saying is that false sexual assault accusations are simply inexistent – right? They very much exist and, more often than not, it will go on unheard with the truth never unraveled because it is more embarrassing to make an admission that you lied about about a survivor (regardless of the reason). 

    I have personally seen a handful of my peers become victims of false sexual assault accusations for reasons just as the Emerald described; now they have to be registered as sexual offenders, have a felony on their record, and some even serve time in jail or prison.  These situations are very much existent, underestimated and overlooked. 

    You are right in every way with respect to how to act with someone who is a survivor speaking about their experience, not asking if they are joking – obviously not. 

    You are completely ignorant and unrealistic if you all want to pretend (or maybe you genuinely aren’t aware, I don’t know) that there aren’t plenty of females that are self-proclaimed “survivors” who have not actually been victimized themselves but actually victimized another with false accusations. 

    • Guest

      Real men get consent.  Real men make sure that their friends understand that they need to get consent.  Let’s live up to our own responsibilities instead of perpetuating a broken system of victim blaming.  It is undeniably the manly thing to do.

      • Taylor

        Fuck “real men” and “manly” ideals. Same patriarchal bullshit the author is perpetuating. 

        • Guest

          I do not agree.  What we are trying to do here is recognize 1. Men are far and away the source of sexual violence.  2. That clearly requires a redefinition of what it means to be a man.  It is not patriarchy to tell other men that it is right to fight against sexual violence, and wrong not to.  Currently, part of being a man means that one is part of the group that is guilty of committing the vast majority of sexual violence.  That is not okay with me.  So you are going to tell me that I can’t redefine what “man” means in order to fight against that?  You are barking up the wrong tree here.  Men need to stop committing sexual violence.  That’s it.  Any way we can connect with them to get them to agree with that is worth pursuing, even if, and especially if, it involves them emphasizing a different part of their gender identity.  Redefining what it means to be a man is definitely part of reacting against patriarchy.

          • Taylor

             I don’t fully understand what you’re trying to say, but let me clarify: I don’t appreciate the classification of “real man.” It implies that there are “fake men” out there (sissy homos who aren’t heroic protectors of women’s rights.) The definition of “real man” is so intrinsically connected with a hateful, heteronormative culture, I am a little bit dumbfounded to see you promoting this ideal as some kind of progress against sexual assault. I am not telling you what you can and can’t “define,” but as a man I hate it when women (as I gather you are from your “we/them” comment) or anyone tells me how a “real man” should behave. And in that sense, you aren’t really redefining anything, just promoting the same narrow-minded views we’ve had all along.

    • Helen Gallagher

      So, women who report sexual assault are guilty until proved innocent?

  • Marissa

    I think some of the commenters are overreaching a little bit. The article does engage in some slut and victim shaming, but to write it off as just that is overlooking an important discussion.

    I think a civilized conversation has yet to happen about the personal responsibility part of this.
    Now I’m not saying “oh she had a short skirt or was drunk so she deserved whatever happened,” What I’m talking about, and what the original article was poking at is that issue of taking responsibility. 

    If someone does not or cannot consent then the conversation is over, it’s sexual assault. 

    But no one seems to look at it from the angle of two equally intoxicated individuals both consenting to a sex act and then in the cold light of day really regretting what happened and not fully remembering/understanding what happened. 

    No one is saying that that drunk girl assulted that drunk guy, but I have seen instances where something consensual did happen but because the girl was so blackout drunk she can’t believe that she would ever hookup like that so she starts to wonder did something happen?

    I doubt that that’s some epidemic, but it does happen and talking about it isn’t slut or victim shaming. 

    How do you judge a situation where two people get blackout drunk and both consent, but when they sober up they can’t remember that consent? This is one of those situations where it sometimes can too quickly turn into an unintentional false report. 

    • dkeade

      You are absolutely correct. I appreciate the tone of these comments compared to those of the other article… if you really want to change someone’s views, don’t name-call or yell at them; calmly but firmly correct their misconceptions.

    • Abigail Leeder

       Sure, regretting sexual encounters is different than sexual assault. The problem lies however in what Jackson Katz calls “the false fear of false reports”. Sexual Assault is EXTREMELY under reported (less than 60% get reported and that is a high estimate). The reporting process is long and arduous and very rarely yields a positive outcome for the person reporting. Reports do not get made “unintentionally”. When we perpetuate the fear that women joke and lie about sexual assault we make it much harder for survivors to be believed. Mr. Long and the Sorority woman he quoted think it is the jokes and lies that are the problem (and joking and lying are certainly a problem when they happen) but ironically, it is the ideas they hold about sexual assault that continue to make it harder for survivors.

  • Jackson

    Thanks.  This needed to be said.  It’s pretty pathetic that the article got published in the first place.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=611700262 Anonymous

    My upset about the original letter can not be contained in the 500 word limit of Facebook/Emerald comments.  Please read the below linl

    http://paxus.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/victim-blaming-101/

  • guest

    The quote that this letter is referring to is a quote taken from a sorority girl.  Being a quote it is her own opinion and the newspaper should be able to report perspectives of the student body. Secondly taken out of context this quote should be infuriating, but if you spend the time to read the whole article you’ll see this type of thinking is exactly what the author wants to challenge. So instead of signing off an angry letter read the article.

    • Lauren Appell

      While everyone is entitled to their opinion, it is extremely frustrating to have an article “confronting sexual assault” that is actually victim-blaming and insinuating that many who identify as survivors are lying. Regardless of who is quoted, this should NOT be the focus of an article regarding sexual assault. There are far more people being sexually assaulted than there are people being falsely convicted, and therefore supporting survivors (and in turn actually taking a step toward confronting sexual assault) is the main priority. Yes, people are capable of lying, but focusing on those few individuals will do NOTHING to prevent sexual assault on this campus.

    • Helen Gallagher

      Women are not immune from promoting victim blaming. 

  • guest

    The quote that this letter is referring to is a quote taken from a sorority girl.  Being a quote it is her own opinion and the newspaper should be able to report perspectives of the student body. Secondly taken out of context this quote should be infuriating, but if you spend the time to read the whole article you’ll see this type of thinking is exactly what the author wants to challenge. So instead of signing off an angry letter read the article.

  • Guest

    To believe for a second that 100% of reported sexual assault cases are 100% true and unfabricated is ignorant, at best. Those accused are innocent until proven guilty, despite some at our University’s Women’s Center holding the opinion that every man is a rapist waiting to be unleashed.

    • http://www.facebook.com/nina.moon Nina Moon Nolen

      Actually, we believe that most men do not rape, but most rapes are committed by men, there’s a difference.

      And, we aren’t the University’s Women Center, we’re the Associated Students of the University of Oregon’s Women Center, thank you. 

    • Brudin

       I believe in innocent until proven guilty, I also believe that those claiming to be sexual assault victims should always be given the benefit of the doubt. We can do both

  • Helen Gallagher

    *applauds*

  • Mirranda

    Thank you.   I am sad this needed to be said and am in complete agreement.   Wish I could sign it too.