I have been counseled not to post this at this particular point in time. For several reasons. Keeping cards close to the chest and all that. Not angering the two women who hold in their hands the ruling on the “sexual misconduct” complaint I filed with USC.
But I feel like if I wait for the ruling and it turns out to be a vindication of my rapist, then raising these issues at that point will only make it look like I’m making stuff up after the fact. And these are important issues. So I’m going to bring them up now, so people can see how these kinds of things are being handled, being viewed.
On Tuesday, I went in to meet with Lindsey Goldstein to authenticate the age of some diary entries I had submitted to the office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards (SJACS) to corroborate my testimony. The head of the SJACS office, Raquel Torres-Retana, surprised me by attending the meeting. I was not emotionally prepared to meet with Raquel. I find her hurtfully unsympathetic. She’s one of those people who can smile at a rape victim while commenting about her rapist: “We know that all the students at this University are good students. They’re good people. That’s why they’re here.”
I tried to point out to Raquel that saying this is an assertion of bias — if you believe a man is a “good person,” then you will never be able to acknowledge that he acted with a rapist’s intentional malice or depraved indifference. At the worst, you will think this “good person” just made some kind of unfortunate mistake, some kind of error in judgment, when he forcefully and endlessly rammed his penis into the vagina of a weeping woman who was begging him to stop. I also suggested to Raquel that calling the rapist a “good person” is a slap in the face for a rape victim, because it trivializes the rape and makes the victim “wrong” for believing that her rapist is the exact opposite of a good person. Raquel got exasperated with me and said, “You’re twisting my words. This makes me not want to try to have an open conversation with you.”
Then, while I sat with Lindsey — who is a lovely person who has never asked me inappropriate questions like “What do you actually want to see happen as a result of this process?” (which is, like, the most damning question you can ask a rape victim because for God’s sake, what response doesn’t sound bitter or vindictive?) — Raquel sat and read through a final written argument my lawyers and I had supplied (which I will post after redacting some info that involves witnesses, etc.).
I think it made Raquel mad, because Lindsey upped her empathy quotient, and Raquel and I got terse with each other and Raquel started talking over the top of me and telling me I “twist” everything she says. At which point I got near-hysterical and started embellishing my comments with curse words, Tourette’s-style. (Not using that as a punchline; it was not funny. My lawyers were annoyed about the cursing. But I do that when I’m nervous and adrenaline is stampeding my brain. Fight or flight. Whatever.)
Anyway, it was at that point that Raquel asked me, for the third time, what I wanted to “see as a result of this process.” And I said flat-out:
I want this boy gone. I’ve provided you with a writing that shows he is walking around claiming you have cleared him, when you have not cleared him. A writing that shows he is a slanderous liar. He’s obviously maintaining that his mere presence on campus demonstrates that the University recognizes that I have no case and that he is not a threat. I get nasty shit from his ‘supporters’ online. You and Lindsey both know I am suicidal and on the brink of dropping out of school. He is a rapist and he doesn’t deserve to be a part of the Trojan family.
To which Raquel Torres-Retana responded:
"This is not a punitive process. This is a rehabilitative process. This is an educative process."
I gotta say, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside that my rape is part of my rapist’s “educative process” here at USC. I am so glad the University could put it to such good use. “Making lemonade” and all that.
So, despite my rapist’s four audio-taped confessions that he raped me, despite my concurrent diary entries and confirmable hysterical conversations with friends and family about the details of the rape, I was informed this past Tuesday that I should not and could not expect the University to respond in a “punitive” manner because, as Raquel said, “That is a matter for the courts. That is not what we exist to do.”
I believe that this is in direct violation of what the University of Southern California PROMISES ITS STUDENTS:
The University of Southern California expects that all members of the university community –- students, faculty, staff and friends -– should be able to pursue their work and education in a safe environment, free from sexual coercion, violence and sexual intimidation. The university community is committed to fostering a safe campus environment where sexual misconduct and violence are unacceptable, and where survivors or those who believe they were harmed by another in violation of this policy are provided support and avenues of redress as appropriate. All members of the university community are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that does not infringe upon the rights of others. The University Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Assault Policy and Procedures have been developed to reaffirm these principles and to provide recourse for individuals whose rights have been violated.
Could somebody please explain to me how promising in a code of conduct that the University will “provide recourse for individuals whose rights have been violated" simultaneously allows the University to "rehabilitate" and "educate" students who have committed felonies, rather than pursue a "punitive" response like, say, suspending or expelling a rapist?
Setting aside the fact that having to endure five months of wrestling with these issues hardly seems like a “timely and fair adjudication of sexual misconduct cases,” doesn’t it seem like continuing to embrace a rapist as a viable member of the community is a violation of the University’s explicit promise to the remainder of its 30,000-something-person student body — that the University will foster “a safe campus environment where sexual misconduct and violence are unacceptable?” But it seems the University believes that rapists can be “educated” to stop raping. Short of an edifying genital amputation, I didn’t know that was possible.
Allowing a rapist to attend classes is not providing students with a “safe campus environment.” It is, at the very least, affecting MY safety and learning environment, and, potentially, putting every student who possesses a vagina into an environment where she will associate with and could very well fall prey to a predatory individual.
It is unacceptable.
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