• Art Jahnke

    Senior Contributing Editor

    Art Janke

    Art Jahnke began his career at the Real Paper, a Boston area alternative weekly. He has worked as a writer and editor at Boston Magazine, web editorial director at CXO Media, and executive editor in Marketing & Communications at Boston University, where his work was honored with many awards. Profile

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There are 13 comments on Sexual Misconduct Survey Guides Plan for Action

  1. Great article. There is definitely room for improvement here. I just wish the article had laid out what to actually do in the event of a sexual assault (regardless of whether a student chooses to report to authorities right away.)

  2. Incredibly upsetting and sad findings. I find it interesting that the policy recommendations, mirroring broader trends, focus on victims’ altering their behavior to minimize the chance of being assaulted (e.g. don’t drink so much) and bystanders being encouraged to speak up if they see a potential/actual case of sexual assault. Why isn’t there any attempt being made by BU to communicate with the perpetrators of sexual assault? There are real people out there actually committing these crimes and we need to do more to demonstrate tot hem that what they’re doing (or what they might do) is wrong and will harm their victims.

  3. Godly states: “I don’t think we can do much about sexual assault unless we address alcohol.” Really? As long as people continue to drink, sexual assault is inevitable? That’s a convenient way to say that there’s nothing we can do about sexual assault.

    It’s interesting that when Harvard’s president recently reported on the findings of its sexual assault study, she gave the percentage of women who had experienced “penetration or attempted penetration without their consent,” and the percentage was high. Words matter. “Sexual assault” and “sexual misconduct” allow people to forget that some of what we are talking about is rape.

    1. I’m in agreement here. The committee’s emphasis on alcohol is unclear — why is addressing alcohol use so important for addressing sexual assault? I can see two interpretations: the more ignoble belief that reports of sexual assault are from women who got drunk, had sex, and then regretted it or the belief that women are more vulnerable when they’re drunk. Either one puts the blame on women for sexual assault as opposed to putting the blame on those who commit rape.

      1. If alcohol is more to blame, then the BU admin is less to blame. At least that’s how one can interpret it. Don’t forget, this is the school that routinely lionizes its hockey players while in the past enabling a culture of rape by the team’s stars.

  4. I’m glad that BU is being transparent about the results of the “Sexual Misconduct” survey, but, god, the cause of sexual assault is, well, those who assault. And an overwhelming majority of those who sexually assault are boys and men. Why are they made invisible in this report and discussion?

    It’s telling that even less male students (16%) than female students (22%) filled out the survey: most young men don’t care about consent or how they treat women in (and outside) of the bedroom. How about we start creating programs that target male students’ attitudes towards women and sex, rather than label alcohol as the cause of sexual assault at BU?

    1. L,

      So what percentage of boys/men commit sexual assault? My guess is that a very small percentage of male commit sexual assault and rape although I’m probably inclined to believe that the vast majority of offenders are male despite being male and having been taken advantage of sexually. I fell asleep alone on a couch at my friend’s house and woke up to a girl on top of me. Yes, I had been drunk and even had vomited that night. No, I never reported it.

      I do think it’s telling that only 22% of those people receiving the survey actually completed it. These types of surveys can be subject to selection bias in that people who have experienced sexual assault or know someone who has are more likely to complete the survey.

      I guess what I’m saying is it stinks to be a guy and have our whole sex’s reputation ruined by a small percentage of terrible people.

      1. b, I’m sorry you went through that experience. However, I find it odd that you use your experience as a weapon to shun and silence women who point out and want to challenge rape culture, rather then using your experience to empathize with women and girls who experience sexual violence at the hands of men.

        Women aren’t “being attacked” by unknown bodies. It is primarily men doing this to women. If you’re taking that plain fact to mean “she hates me and is blaming all men,” then you might want to reexamine the way you look at women speaking up for themselves and other women in the face of a society that consistently covers for men and repeatedly blames women for rape and sexual assault (“she was drinking,” “look at what she was wearing,” etc.).

        Did you even read the article above? It says that nearly a third of women at BU say they have been raped or sexually assaulted, and that this is CONSISTENT with national stats on sexual violence against women.

        Your “reputation” is barely sullied by the overwhelmingly male violence against women in this world – even some members of BU’s task force are blaming women’s “alcohol” behavior for rape and sexual assault. And, even if your reputation as a guy was ruined, I can tell you that it “stinks” a lot more to have to navigate this world as a woman, under the constant threat of rape and sexual assault at the hands of men – partners, family members, and strangers alike.

  5. All I’m saying is that the suggestion of creating programs targeting men’s attitudes towards women and sex is parallel to blaming all muslims for terrorism or more extremely rounding up all Americans of Japanese ancestry for internment. It also fails to acknowledge that women are likewise capable of sexual assault. I can empathize with women and girls who experience sexual assault, but the narrative that only men assault is frustrating to someone who has experience it at the hands of a woman.

  6. As a parent of a BU student, I appreciate the transparency and candor shared here. People who’ve been victimized or those who know of someone who has been victimized need to easily find resources. Put it in the student’s weblink, on the website and posters around campus. Students should NOT have to hunt for that kind of resource. Create a hotline for students to call. Keep the conversation going. Use the statistics as a point of discussion. Humanize the statistics. Bring people in who are willing to share their stories, work with agencies who have people who are willing to share. Community groups, sports teams, religious groups, all those kinds of organizations on campus should be opening up dialogue to raise awareness and lessen the shame associated with it. Definitely keep sharing things like this.

  7. To the Editor,

    Campuses around the United States have attempted to take action against sexual violence. Boston University is not unlike other campuses where 1) sexual violence is a huge issue and 2) bureaucratic actions have been put into place. I express my support for the acknowledgement of and actions put in place by the BU task force; however, in order for this to be effective, we must address the intersection of sexual assault and alcohol on campus.

    The BU Task Force had an unclear explanation of the intersection of sexual assault and alcohol consumption that translates to victim blaming. It is important to note that when talking about the convoluted intersection of sexual assault and alcohol, we do not give the impression that victims should avoid alcohol consumption instead of ignoring the role of perpetrators. If the BU Task Force wants to be effective, they need to be clear about the language they are using so that victim blaming does not happen.

    We all have a role to play in building an environment free of sexual violence. This is a call to action for Boston University to make our campus different than others in the nation by making our efforts to address sexual violence and alcohol more transparent.

    All the Best,
    Ashlee Espensen
    MPH Candidate
    Boston University School of Public Health

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