After reading “Colleges Become the Victims of Progressivism,” where Washington Post columnist, conservative, and consistent curmudgeon George Will argued that there is no campus rape epidemic and that victims of sexual assault are lying, Wagatwe Wanjuki, took to Twitter to chronicle her own rape. While doing so, she revealed that after opening up about being a victim of sexual violence, she was asked to leave her school.
Wanjukji went on to tell the Huffington Post, “It was mind-boggling that someone would think there’s anything to gain by coming forward as a survivor.” She added that rape survivors “face ridicule, attacks and threats.” To put it even more plainly, Wanjuki explained, it’s “just not a pleasant experience.”
As for how Tufts University handled the matter of Wanjuki’s assault:
Wanjuki first became public as a survivor in 2009, when she was a student at Tufts University in Massachusetts. Wanjuki says she was assaulted multiple times by a fellow Tufts student she was in a relationship with, but when she tried in 2008 to report him for a campus adjudication, the university told her their legal counsel said they didn’t have to take action. This was back before the U.S. Department of Education made it crystal clear in a 2011 Dear Colleague letter that universities had an obligation under Title IX to respond to reported sexual violence.
And once the trauma from her history of falling victim to sexual violence affected her grades, she was asked to leave — despite her grades not slipping to the point in which she would need to be placed on academic probation.
Wanjukji’s story is horrific, but not necessarily uncommon.
Just this week, we learned the story of Katie Landry, a former student at Bob Jones University student who was told by the dean of students that she caused her own rape. Landry says she was raped by her supervisor at her summer job. Two years later, she sought council from her dean at the self-professed “fortress of faith.”
His response was less than comforting let alone Christ-like. Landry recalls, “He goes, ‘Well, there’s always a sin under other sin. There’s a root sin.’ And he said, ‘We have to find the sin in your life that caused your rape.’ And I just ran.”
Landry ultimately dropped out of Bob Jones University and didn’t tell anyone about her experience for five years.
It would be easy to conclude that a school rooted in Christian fundamentalism that boasts of its seclusion from the rest of the world would be prone to this sort of behavior. But with the story of Wagatwe Wanjuki, it’s clear that women can easily fall victim not only to sexual assault, but lazy, unsympathetic, and cruel responses to what’s happened to them. And when you think about someone like George Will being given a platform to be poisonous, without any repercussions, it’s a reminder of how far we collectively have to go in the name of ending rape culture.
Yes, like many terms that wind up on social media, it’s a phrase that you’ve now heard over and over again. But it exists because it rings true. From the crotchety, sexist man writing for a major newspaper to the zealot with a sociopath’s interpretation of scripture down to the morally bankrupt administration at a premier university.