The deluge of reports about sexual assault on campuses across America in the past year has shown that time and time again, colleges have little clue about how to help sexual assault survivors.
Last week, a Harvard student wrote a damning essay criticizing the Ivy League school for failing to properly address her alleged rape. This week, Delaney Robinson, a sophomore at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, spoke up on a similar issue.
On Tuesday, Robinson held a press conference with her father and attorney about the UNC's failure to hold her alleged rapist accountable for his actions — even six months after she went through all the punishing motions to report the assault .
Robinson, 19, alleged that junior Allen Artis, a UNC football player, raped her on February 14 at Ram Village apartments on campus. In a powerful statement, According to Buzzfeed, Robinson said that yes, she was drinking that night, "but," she added, "that does not give anybody the right to violate me. I did not deserve to be raped."
After the incident, she went to the hospital and gave an account of what she remembered to the sexual assault nurse. Then, she said, she was grilled by a UNC Department of Public Safety officer, who subjected her to "demeaning and accusatory" questions, including:
What was I wearing? What was I drinking? How much did I drink? How much did I eat that day? Did I lead him on? Had I hooked up with him before? Do I often have one night stands? Did I even say no? What is my sexual history? How many men have I slept with? I was treated by a suspect.
In stark contrast to how they treated her, Robinson said that officials displayed a gross sense of "camaraderie" with Artis.
"They provided reassurances when he became upset. They even laughed with him when he told them how many girls' phone numbers he had managed to get on the same night he raped me. They told him, 'Don't sweat it, just keep on living your life and playing football,'" she said. "This man raped me. And the police told him not to sweat it. How can this happen? Where is the protection for students? Why does the university not care that this rapist is free and could possible harm another student?"
And in her final remarks, Robinson laid out just how campuses continue to fail the students under their care:
I did everything a rape victim is supposed to do. I reported it. I allowed the rape kit to be taken. I gave a statement. I cooperated with law enforcement and the Title IX office. But six months later the university has done nothing. I'm taking this public stand not for me but for the other students on campus who are not protected, no matter what the university says.
The statement on UNC's website responding to the case says that the university is making addressing sexual violence its highest priority, but "under federal privacy law we are prohibited from responding to those allegations."
It's only recently that sexual assault on college campuses has come to the forefront of national conversation. Almost two years ago exactly, the White House launched the "It's On Us" campaign to fight back against a culture that all too often seems placidly tolerant of sexual assault, and slowly but surely, shifts are being made. This month, the House of Representatives passed the Survivor's Bill of Rights Act of 2016, which, when signed into law, will grant all sexual assault survivors the right to access and preserve evidence collected in rape kits, among other much-needed rights.
It's a start, and one that was only made possible by the determination of survivors-turned-advocates like Robinson. But as her experience with UNC proves, we still have a long way to go.