Letter to the Editor: Students must reflect on intersectional results of climate survey

Dear Editor,

Tulane University came together literally and figuratively to discuss the climate of sexual violence on our campus on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. Anyone who has not been closely following the process of the Climate Survey (from filling it out to impatiently awaiting the results) most likely could not define the Wave of Change.

The ambiguous title of the new sexual violence platform on Tulane’s campus shows that we are still not ready to openly discuss rape. In addition, hosting the event in Kendall Cram was an illustration of the administration’s limited expectations of the student body. Hundreds of people marked “going” on the event’s Facebook page, yet the event was hosted in a room that fits a fraction of that number. To make change, we must offer a space of communication and information to as many people as possible.

While we had many feelings about how the event was planned, we were exceptionally frustrated by what the event lacked. When Tania Tetlow and Meredith Smith analyzed the statistics, they very blatantly ignored the bias behind the low rates of sexual assault on women of color.

There is a history in America of people in power attempting to silence people of color, especially women of color. This history is significant on Tulane’s campus as well. The low statistic most likely can be interpreted in a variety of ways. However, Tania Tetlow and Meredith Smith chose to describe it as a positive piece of the results. They completely ignored all of the possible negative connotations. Their ignorance on this topic only furthers the barrier between students of color and the administration.

One of our greatest critiques of the event was that it lacked a concrete prevention plan. We are disappointed that the administration seems more focused on the aftereffects of sexual violence than they are on stopping it before it happens.

Students United for Reproductive Justice is the primary pro-choice, sex-positive organization on Tulane’s campus. We discuss and advocate for a wide array of sexual health topics. In regards to the sexual violence issue on campus, we will continue to encourage healthy conversations about sex, pleasure and consent. We believe that promoting a community where sex and pleasure are discussed regularly could have beneficial effects on rape culture.

SURJ is doing our part by hosting events that champion sexual autonomy and healthy sex education. Our upcoming event, Sex Ed Bingo, and our current event, Condom-grams on McAlister, are both designed to encourage conversations about positive sexual choices.


Students United for Reproductive Justice

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