Last weekend the Boston College Bubble popped right before my eyes. No longer is the stretch of Comm. Ave. between Lake and Sutherland Streets a safe haven. No longer can I be assured of my safety because Gasson Hall is in view.
I awoke Sunday morning to a text asking if I had seen my friend Sarah, whose name I have changed to protect her privacy. Of course, I thought Sarah was sleeping in her dorm, having come home safely after her night off campus with friends. Hours later, still no one had heard from Sarah.
Through an RA that I had befriended last year, I learned that Sarah had been transported from her dorm to St. Elizabeth’s around 2 a.m. the night before.
Confused and anxious, my friends and I waited for her arrival back to campus. We were even more confused and then scared when she finally arrived and had scratches and bruises on her face, arms, and legs, and a moderate concussion.
Sarah doesn’t remember much from last Saturday night. She does remember meeting a group of boys while she was out. She also remembers having three to four drinks in her three-hour outing. She says the last thing she remembers from that night is deciding to go home.
While Sarah has been able to fill in some blanks, unfortunately, there are several important questions that will permanently remain unanswered.
Sarah’s saving grace was a BC student walking down Comm. Ave. at 1:30 a.m. on Sunday morning who saw her struggling against a man who was trying to lead her away from BC.
He stepped in and insisted on helping Sarah back to the nearest dorm building, where he called the police under the help-seeking policy. When they arrived on the scene, an ambulance was called immediately.
At the hospital, Sarah was not given a blood alcohol test.
Sarah was not tested for drugs such as roofies or other sedatives.
Sarah did not receive a CAT scan, despite the injuries to her face and head.
She was treated like any other underage drunken BC student, even though her case was—hopefully—very unique.
During her meeting with the Resident Director (RD), Sarah expressed her concerns about the lack of attention she received from the hospital and police officers. She also expressed her fears about the lack of answers she will ever receive about what happened to her that night.
The RD admitted that she was accustomed to handling underage students whose excuses for being out of control are that BC won the USC game or that they needed to unwind after a long week of classes.
Instead of resolving the matter, Sarah, like all other students who are documented under the help-seeking policy, was referred to alcohol consumption counseling.
Sarah will probably never receive all of the answers about last Saturday night. Her story, however, can be used as an example of the limits of the BC Bubble.
Admittedly, this column was written in the hopes that Sarah can obtain some closure about her experience in knowing that her story was told, and could possibly prevent other students from facing the same feelings of unease she now carries with her.
It was also written to send two messages to all students: If you see something that looks wrong, say something. Be the student who walks a struggling girl back to her dorm, rather than the one who looks away, because evil prevails when good people do nothing about it.
Secondly, if you are out by yourself, the BC Bubble is not as safe as you might think it is. Sarah was in view of Gasson Hall, but that would not have kept her from being taken somewhere she didn’t want to go. The safety of the BC Bubble depends on the people who are in it, not on your distance from campus.
Featured Image by Daniel Lee / Heights Senior Staff
I find it interesting that stories like this one always tend to involve alcohol… If students were more careful drinkers, or non-drinkers, things like this would be even less common. Just too much risk taking strange drinks, drinking without having a close trustworthy friend, or drinking beyond one’s limit.
This is the problem with rape culture, especially on college campuses; people are so keen to immediately blame the victim. “Well she drank too much so she was asking for it. She should’ve known better.” By holding the victim accountable for the perpetrator’s actions or even rationalizing his assault away by assuming that he too was drinking, you are perpetuating rape culture. Perhaps we should be more concerned that men think that they are entitled to women’s bodies and that women have to be constantly hypervigilant lest they be assaulted and then blamed for their assault.
I agree that we should of course not blame the victim in cases of rape and that the rapist is completely at blame and should be put behind bars for the remainder of his/her life.
However, I believe that all people should behave responsibly and make intelligent decisions – this applies to both men and women alike. While the rapist/attacker is of course to blame, individuals should take the necessary precautions to keep themselves out of harms way by not becoming drunk to the point where they black out or are unaware of their surroundings. Just because the rapist/attacker is to blame, it doesnt mean that men and women can behave irresponsibly by drinking to their hearts content without thinking about the ramifications. We cannot speak much on the particular case of Sarah because we are unaware of what exactly happened, if she was raped, or if she was given roofies causing her to black out. We simply do not know so there is no point arguing over it. I am speaking generally about the BC drinking culture. As a former student myself, I have had many friends who have woken up at St Es after blacking out. While perpetrators of crimes are completely to blame in cases of rape and assault, we are adults that should choose our actions very carefully. It is a dangerous world we live in.
Telling people that they need to take precautions, such as making sure that they don’t drink too much or watching their drink so that they’re not roofied, to avoid being sexually assaulted is still a component of victim blaming. You are setting them up to partially, if not fully, take the blame for their assault.
By telling a would-be victim, “Don’t be irresponsible and drink to your hearts content or you might get raped,” you are putting the responsibility of the crime on the victim’s shoulders. By saying that, you are telling a would-be assailant, “It is your victim’s responsibility to make sure that they are not assaulted. If they fail to hold their liquor or leave their drink unattended, they have willingly left themselves vulnerable for you to take advantage of them. It is their fault that they have provided you with this opportunity to assault them.”
Sexual assault and rape are the only violent crimes where we place responsibility of the crime on the victim. We do not tell victims of a carjacking, “Oh, well maybe you shouldn’t have been in a car to begin with.” We do not tell victims of a kidnapping, “Oh, well maybe you shouldn’t have put yourself in a position to be kidnapped.” But we do tell victims of rape and assault, “Oh, well maybe you shouldn’t have been drinking so much” and, despite your best intentions, that is a victim blaming microaggression that perpetuates rape culture.
There is a point to arguing about this. This article is not about the BC drinking culture. This article is about raising awareness that not everyone within and around the BC community are men and women for others but men and women who wish to do others harms. Kendra is trying to raise awareness that it is up to us to step in and stop assaults before they can begin and the first step of that is telling would-be assailants that is is NOT okay to take advantage of drunk people, not telling would-be victims not to drink.
Telling someone to be careful and take precautions to protect themselves is not victim-blaming. It is simply good advice. If Sarah was in fact assaulted in any way, it wouldnt be her fault. But in the future, she should be careful to not drink to the point of blacking out where she is unaware of her surroundings. The aggressor is of course to blame but as I’ve said, every adult (male and female) should take the necessary steps to make sure they are safe. It is part of being a responsible adult. Things can happen in life that can result in any one of us being a victim of a crime but we should all try to do what we can to keep ourselves out of harm’s way.
If someone is mugged while walking through a dangerous neighborhood at night, it isnt the victims fault. But I would advise the victim to avoid walking through such areas at night. If someone has their house robbed due to their doors being unlocked, it is of course the robbers fault. But I would advise the home owner to lock their doors.
You will never achieve a society in which there is zero crime. That will simply never happen. I agree that we should raise awareness about assault and other such crimes in efforts to curb such actions from ever taking place; however, we should also raise awareness for the men and women on BC’s campus to take measure to ensure their safety. This is simply a part of being a responsible adult. And this is in fact one of the main points that the author of this article was trying to make.
You’ve missed one of the main take-aways of this article. The last line of the article reads as follows: “Secondly, if you are out by yourself, the BC Bubble is not as safe as you might think it is. Sarah was in view of Gasson Hall, but that would not have kept her from being taken somewhere she didn’t want to go. The safety of the BC Bubble depends on the people who are in it, not on your distance from campus.”
The author is in fact writing this article for the exact purpose that I am trying to explain. BC students must understand that even though you’re in the vicinity of campus, it does not mean that you’re safe. If students could come to this realization, they would understand the importance of being careful and taking measure to ensure their safety.
Thank you Nick for being respectful towards Maria and recognizing that her point had validity in it, while still staying strong on your opinion and thank you for understanding what I meant to say. To put it more clearly, her getting raped or assaulted or drugged isn’t her fault– that’s the rapist’s fault. I wasn’t even saying that she was drunk. I was just commenting on how interesting it was to see that alcohol was involved someway followed by my general thoughts on alcohol. At no point did I say, or remotely mean to imply, “Don’t drink alcohol if you don’t want to get raped/assaulted/drugged by someone else unless you want people to blame you!” To take what I said and extrapolate it that far is absurd, and clearly pushing an agenda. What really shocked me that people aren’t pointing out is the preconceived notions that the doctors (EMTs?) had when they treated her: It seems like they just thought it normal for there to be a drunken girl who had sustained a few wounds, and didn’t bother doing further examinations. I’m not sure if this is standard procedure, but if it is, then why?
linkypants – you’re making a lot of assumptions in just three sentences. Well, I can’t call them sentences because one ends with an ellipsis and the last “sentence” is incomplete, as we say in the ed biz. I don’t know if she was drunk or if she was drugged, and neither do you. I don’t think Sarah knows, either. By saying, “If students were more careful drinkers, or non-drinkers . . .” you are imposing your own moral standards on a stranger, not to mention living in Fantasyland. When I went to BC, the drinking age was 18 and there was a bar on middle campus. The students watched out for each other. Of course, the student body was much smaller then. I recommend you watch an ancient movie called “The Accused,” which earned Jodie Foster her first Academy Award. It’s based on a true story about a gang-rape in a New Bedford, Mass. bar. It might help tip your world on its axis and teach you not to be so judgmental.
Using ad hominem attacks to argue against my point while failing to realize what I was trying to say? Cute.
I find it interesting that you, Teun, a rector of a Baptist church in the Netherlands chose to comment on such an obscure article. What is your interest here ?
Funny that you assume to know who I am although my profile is naked. Way to flush out any agendas.
Yes let’s focus not on the actions of the men who are abusing the girl, but blame it on the drunk girl? Rape culture is perpetuated by such microaggressions like this!
Guess what? The drinking age is put in place precisely to prevent this kind of situation. You cannot both break the law and be protected. Be my guest if you would like to call the drinking age ridiculous, because I do it as well, but at your own risk.
GROW UP people!!!!
Yet no one’s age was disclosed in this article so it is pretty presumptuous to assume that the victim was underage. And even if she was underage, that doesn’t rationalize assault. “You cannot both break the law and be protected.” So, with your reasoning, if I jaywalk, does it mean that it’s okay that I’m mugged once I cross to the other side of the street? Instead of blaming the victim, we should hold the perpetrator accountable for his actions.
First of all, the student could have been 21, second of all, the student could have been drugged, third of all blaming victims in abuse/rape situations such as this perpetuates rape culture. Your argument that a drunk person has it coming is the same as saying a girl who dresses in a scandalous manner is asking to get raped. This kind of thinking is extremely common in our society, and slowly generation by generation our thinking is changing. You say “grow up” I say to you, don’t be stuck in the ways of the past generations who allowed abuse like this to happen!
Kendra, I applaud you for bringing light to what happened to your friend and raising awareness that BC is not as safe as we would like to believe. I am so terribly sorry that this happened to your friend and I hope that she is able to find closure. When I was a student at BC, it seemed like everyone was willing to jump through flaming hoops to avoid discussing assault and sexual assault on campus. I hope that this article and any others like it will help facilitate a discussion about rape culture on college campuses.
Don’t teach me not to wear flashy jewelry in the ghetto, teach people not to steal! don’t make me lock my door, teach home invaders not to trespass!
This is how idiotic you people sound. Maybe next time this girl should avoid getting blackout drunk around strangers by herself.
You sound like the type of person who would tell the families of murder victims, “Well, if your loved one wasn’t alive to begin with, this never would’ve happened.”
Again, you display your limited intelligence by evading the point and attacking a straw man. Are women today so stupid that they really believe that a thing such as the “bc bubble” is real? Seems like women need to wake up, the world is not pretty, and you can’t flaunt your tits at MAs and get blackout drunk expecting the government to swoop in to protect you from your moronic choices every time.
Oh, bravo, I truly commend your use of ableism as you perch on your high horse and try to lecture me about how it’s morally acceptable to slut shame and victim blame.
Let me paint you a hypothetical picture here. A man walks into a police station to report a mugging. The police officer sits him down and starts questioning him.
Officer: What happened?
Man: A man pulled a gun on me and demanded all of my money.
Officer: And did you?
Man: Yes, I co-operated.
Officer: So you willingly gave the man your money without putting up a fight?
Man: I was afraid he was going to kill me.
Officer: But you still cooperated with him. And word on the street is that you’re quite the philanthropist too.
Man: I don’t understand what that has to do with this situation.
Officer: Well, you willingly walked down a street alone at night in your fancy suit and, on top of that, everyone knows that you like to give out money. Now, you claim to have been mugged but you didn’t even fight back. Are you sure it was a mugging? Are you sure you didn’t just give him the money and are now having second thoughts about your donation?
In case you weren’t able to pick up on this, that was a rape analogy. Except in real life, when someone is mugged, the mugger is without a doubt at fault. In real life, when someone is murdered, the murderer is without a doubt at fault. But when someone is raped or sexually assaulted, you and others like you will go to such extreme lengths to blame the victim for a crime another human being has committed against them.
Honestly, how dare you. How dare you come onto this article and attack this poor woman. She is a victim. How dare you try to place the blame of her assault on her and her choices. Another human being was vile enough to try to take advantage of and violate her and you have the audacity to come yelling “Slut! She was asking for it!” at the top of your lungs. How dare you.
It’s pretty clear that you’re a disgusting human being and nothing that I say will open your eyes to how harmful and problematic your views are or how you are perpetuating rape culture but I will not sit by quietly and let you try to blame Sarah for her assault.
I find it interesting that you, Teun, a rector of a Baptist church in the Netherlands chose to comment on such an obscure article. What is your interest here?
How about we just agree that the rapist necessarily bears all moral culpability for a rape even in such a case the victim could ostensibly have reduced his or her odds of being victimized. For an analogy, consider that if you leave your bicycle outside your house, the odds the bike is stolen increase. Nevertheless, the fault is entirely that of the thief. No one would seriously suggest you are responsible for the theft or deserve blame, nor should the thief be exonerated. That being said, advising someone to take precautions against theft or for that matter rape is reasonable under the right circumstances; it is probably easier to better equip victims to handle crime than to reform the sociopathic behavior of criminals. It strikes me as incredibly insensitive, however, to reprimand a victim for failing to take precautions rather than displaying sympathy for his or her plight. “Victim blaming” in this vein seems to be a reaction against the feminist politics surrounding rape prevention. While policy arguments are fine, they should not be an excuse to trivialize profound suffering or demean someone who deserves our sympathy and support.