Kiara Bass | Contributing Writer
BuzzFeed released an investigative article regarding rape on historically black college and university campuses, specifically at Spelman College and Morehouse College. The article centered around past and present Spelmanites who had been victims of rape during their tenure at Spelman College.
Both schools have failed to create safe campus environments and the college’s’ dark history regarding the issue of campus rape and sexual assault is now being exposed.
Melanie, a current student at Spelman, shared her fairly recent incident in the article. Although this article reported and investigated incidents at SpelHouse, it was evident that Hampton University shares similar issues and handle them the same manner.
Similar to our peers at Spelman College and Morehouse College, we participate in school traditions that help continue the legacy of our colleges. Hamptonians participate in a freshman induction ceremony during orientation week and are assigned a “big brother” or “big sister” to help us navigate through our tenure at Hampton.
At Spelman and Morehouse, they are matched up with a peer in their class at the other college to partner with during their journey of higher academia. This acts for a support system for students, but for many female students it subjects them to being victims of sexual abuse and rape if their big brother takes advantage of them.
The women of Spelman mentioned in Buzzfeed’s article felt conflicted about reporting their attackers because of the pressure to uphold both colleges’ prestige in the public eye. Hampton women bare this burden as well.
In the 2014-2015 academic school year, allegations of the school’s chapel choir director performing an act of “sexual battery” towards a female student arose. The student reported the incident and took legal action against the director. Less than a month after that incident, it was reported that the choir director was found not guilty due to “The Hampton University Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Committee could not find a preponderance of evidence to support the complainant’s allegation of sexual misconduct.”
Ironically, in the BuzzFeed article, Melanie’s attacker was not subjected to disciplinary action because “the facts do not support finding that this sexual contact was without consent.”
Hampton University reinstated the choir director immediately following this case, which engulfed some classmates in rage. The university was too quick to reinstate him. Being that a professor or person of authority his is a recurring instance that has happened multiple times at Hampton University is a major concern.
If you just enter “Hampton University rape” into the Google search bar you find several occasions have happened, one tracing back as early as 1992. The Huffington Post highlighted an incident where a prospective student visited Hampton University campus and got raped.
According to a 1992 article in the Daily Press, there was an incident where a female student was gang raped by three members of the male basketball team.
The players were acquitted of their charges because she had known her attackers prior to the incident and “had sex with one of the defendants on another occasion.” Her failure to report the incident immediately after also impacted the players’ acquittals.
It is perceived that the university does not react as strongly as it should regarding rape and sexual assault. Only recently did the university announce its removal of Bill Cosby from its Board of Trustees, despite his current legal frenzy regarding rape and sexual assault.
As for current and previous Hampton men of the university, women are not solely responsible for stopping rape and sexual assault. Before you think of accusing a female student of lying about an incident rape or sexual assault, remember that less than 10% of reported rape incidents are false reports. According to a federal study by the National Institute of Justice, “only 17% of black women report their instances of sexual assault to police.” Remember that having a girl does not want to have sexual relations with you, it is her prerogative not to do so and that you have no jurisdiction over her or her body. And, what a woman chooses to wear is not an indicator that she wants to have sexual relations with you.
It is our responsibility not only as Hamptonians, but as of members of the black community, to start talking about these issues so that that future cases may be prevented.