In response to “Not cheering this No. 1 ranking” (Feb. 15 Forum):
As a proud graduate of Davidson College, I can attest that in the late 1980s and early 1990s, women on campus often refrained from reporting sexual assaults, as was true on most other college and university campuses. Women had only been admitted to Davidson College 15 years prior to my class starting, and the culture was still unquestionably one of white male privilege. I’m encouraged to see today’s administration determined to foster a culture of reporting, of co-ed awareness, of what consent means and of genuine accountability. The numbers are shocking in comparison to the “good old days,” but that is because in years past, most survivors kept silent and continued to bear the trauma of going to school with their assailants.
I share the words of my fellow Davidson College alumna, Elyse Hamilton-Childres, Class of 2009, who said on Facebook this week, “as a professional sexual assault advocate, I firmly believe high numbers of reported campus sexual assaults indicate that progress is being made toward a campus and societal culture where sexual assault is not a hidden and ignored crime. I guarantee you, sexual assault happens more frequently than you would believe just about anywhere, including college campuses. Institutions with low numbers are either not telling the full story or not getting the full story in the first place because victims aren’t coming forward to campus officials or anyone else.”
Don Reid’s reference to the College’s “abandoning founding principles [and] distancing itself from its conservative Presbyterian heritage” in part refers to the 2005 decision of the College’s Board of Trustees to allow 20 percent of the board to be non-Christian. However, it is faulty logic to infer that a conservative Christian culture on a college campus would prevent sexual assaults. A simple review of the past few years in Christian institutions across the nation reveals countless examples of the two not being mutually exclusive.
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As to denigrating Braxton Winston, our distinguished fellow alumnus of Class of 2006, with Mr. Reid’s stereotyping and insulting comments, that particular Hail Mary pass is a total miss. Mr. Winston is an example of the spirit of inquiry and social justice that Davidson College champions. We are proud our alma mater is proactive in its unyielding work to change a culture that truly should become a thing of the past.
Sikkelee is CEO of the YWCA Central Carolinas.