LETTER: Despite expulsion, my rapist will be at graduation
In August 2013, my life drastically changed.
I was 18 and beginning my sophomore year. It was the weekend before school started. I went out with some friends to start the school year off, but had to work in the morning so I went out with restrictions, including leaving my keys in my friends room so that we would have to stick together.
We met up with more people who I didn’t know and went to a party off-campus. I lost a game of beer pong, which flipped my life upside down. Per the rules of beer pong, the loser had to take a shot of alcohol. I owed him a shot and thought one shot would be okay and I would just go home right after. We went to Shaw hall where I took the shot. After, I was sexually assaulted.
When I woke up I was confused, the room was spinning and I didn’t know where I was. I didn’t even feel like I was in my own body. I was terrified walking home from his room and I called my mom, panicked. I didn’t know what happened.
As the day went on I pieced what happened together with help from the people I went out with. I went to one of their dorms and that’s when they encouraged me to report what happened. I didn’t want him to do this to another girl, so I reported it.
When reporting it, half a dozen officers arrived, the community director ran over covered in sweat, and I sat there with my friend, terrified.
I reported what happened to MSUPD and the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives, or I3. The entire time everyone was really supportive, but that soon changed.
In January, my rapist was expelled. In the report, someone whom I never met stepped forward and talked to I3 about my rapist asking if he knew where to get “roofies.”
He appealed the decision, but it was upheld. My perpetrator decided to take MSU to court so he could finish the semester. Judge Clinton Canady allowed him to do so.
I felt defeated. My rapist was allowed to finish the year out. Not only did he finish the semester, but he transferred to the University of Michigan with no problem since the incident wasn’t on his transcript at this point.
Starting my junior year, my personal protection order expired and I didn’t renew it. He was expelled and no longer allowed to be on campus and I decided to live on campus for this reason. To feel safe. I began rebuilding my life. I started to going to therapy less and was learning how to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The panic attacks came less and I was starting to feel like myself again.
Until Tuesday, May 5th. It’s finals week and if that wasn’t stressful enough, I received an email that my rapist was granted an exception to trespass for Sunday’s graduation.
There was no warning. No explanation. Just a notice sent in an email that the decision had already been made.
MSU didn’t bother to ask me if I had plans to attend or even bother to look that my college is graduating first that day. I was planning on going to see my friends graduate, but that doesn’t matter to the university. I immediately asked if I could appeal, but have been ignored.
I am the paying student, but my rapist takes priority over me. If he is deemed a danger and was expelled because of assaulting someone why is he allowed to attend? Do rapists now get special privileges at MSU?
I’m absolutely terrified. Not only for myself, but because this time of year is so similar to when I was assaulted. There is a lot of excitement, a lot of shuffling, new people, surroundings are different and there is lots of celebration.
MSU is not protecting us, but putting the student body in danger. MSU is showing that victims don’t matter.
This is why people are terrified to report when they are assaulted. The victims are the ones who are shamed by administration. We need to change this. Students need to shame administration because it’s not going to change until they know how many people care.
I applied to transfer to a different university, but decided to stay because I thought it would get better. It’s not getting better. The MSU administration is made up of rape apologists.
The author of this letter asked not to be identified.