Resources

Merry Christmas.

If you’re concerned about the prevalence of campus sexual assault and lack of resources for the victims, the National Sexual Assault Hotline provides critical support to survivors and their loved ones all day every day. You can volunteer to provide much-needed support to these victims from the comfort of your own home after receiving training and support from experts.

https://www.rainn.org/articles/volunteer-national-sexual-assault-hotline

If you’re concerned with the lack of respect for the black body in America, you may wish to get involved with the Black Lives Matter group that works for the validity of black lives and rebuilding the Black liberation movement in America. Black Lives Matter also has sub-chapters dedicated to female black lives and queer black lives. Check out their website to find out how to get involved with your local chapter of this idealogical and political intervention group seeking to affirm black contributions to society in the face of deadly oppression.

http://blacklivesmatter.com/

For those of you concerned with issues of broad women’s rights, the NOW Foundation focuses on economic justice, pay equity, racial discrimination, women’s health and body image, women with disabilities, reproductive rights and justice, and a long long list of feminist issues both nationally and globally. Whether you want to give time, resources or money, NOW needs you as they do not rely on foundation or corporate donors for support.

http://now.org/more-ways-to-give/

If your concern is primarily that of reproductive health rights for millions of under-insured, uninsured, or poorly insured American women (and men), Planned Parenthood has spent the past century transforming women’s health and empowering millions of people worldwide to make informed health decisions thanks to the support and availability of Planned Parenthood and its services.

https://secure.ppaction.org/site/Donation2?df_id=12913&12913.donation=form1&_ga=1.29649151.1108634893.1481479382

We may have lost this election and are at an all-time threat as women, people of color, and gender non-conforming individuals, but this country is supposed to represent us as much as any other citizens. As soon as the primarily male cis-gender straight majority begins to realize that they are no longer the majority, we need to have supported systems in place to rise up and demonstrate our equity.

Don’t sit back and wait for your friends and neighbors to do it. Have you met your friends and neighbors? They’re likely waiting for you to do it.

Lack of action and inaction are stronger than action. Be active.

Choices

I understand some of you potential contributors/followers/supporters have a big decision to make. In 2016, it’s not easy to decide which battle to fight. Whether you’re dedicate to the fight for gender equality, Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock or any of the other valuable social movements taking place today, get involved in something.

Don’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed by choices and decide not to get involved at all.

You are needed. Especially you young women of color who have been told all your lives that your voice doesn’t matter, or your needs don’t deserve to be met, or that neither Black Lives Matter or Feminism speaks to you specifically. Get involved in both and drop whichever one doesn’t fulfill you. Email movement organizers and tell them you’re feeling conflicted about which movement to join. Call you mom and ask for her opinion. Form a book club with your lady friends and discuss it.

Get involved however you see fit, but don’t sit back outraged. Quiet rage has never encouraged a movement. Complacency has never resulted in social change.

If the biggest threat to your livelihood is a right that other people don’t even have (for example, losing your high-paying job at a university when millions of women of color are considered unemployable because college was not an option for them or they were removed from college for their true sexual assault claims) then you shouldn’t get the option to remain complacent.

If you want to get involved but don’t know the first steps, indicate interest in the comments and we’ll try to put together a list of resources for you to get involved – even if that means peripheral involvement or throwing money at the problem.

Wrongful Termination

I have several premises upon which to base my wrongful termination suit and I look forward to the long, uphill battle this suit will present.

  • Written Promises: I have several document indicating written promise for career growth within the university system. While these are not contracts, I have pages and pages of emails, meeting minutes, and private conversation notes regarding built-in promotions and the tasks I would undertake in those positions. While my employment was always considered “at-will,” being fired for no reason at all (besides personal beliefs as posted on a public website with the CAVEAT that my opinions never represented the university at a whole) is certainly wrong.
  • Retaliation: I understand employers to be forbidden from retaliatory behavior when an employee has engaged in the legally protected activity of free speech. I’m no constitutionalist but I reserve the right to practice my rights as long as they exist for every citizen.
  • Whistle-Blowing: As a former employee who reported activities that I found to be unlawful and harmful to public interest, I should be held in acclaim, not let go from a fruitful career in higher education.

Thanks very much to those of you who left legal referrals in the comments, I’m sorting through and chatting with several attorneys, lawyers and litigators to find the best one for this case. I don’t want to make this decision lightly as I understand this to be a long-term case that will take considerable cooperation between those of us on the same side.

I’ve reached out to several of the young women I met during my employment at Peck to see if any would like to discuss this case, if they have any contributing stories for which they have non-circumstantial evidence. The overwhelming response I’ve received is that they want to be a part of the movement, they have stories to share, and they have nothing even resembling evidence.

That’s the trick about sexual assault: if the only evidence that exists is pain and hurt, you’re not going to get very far. Until women’s voices are heard and respected, we can only continue to live in the grey area of self-reported victimization.

Termination

I thought that last post was going to be the nail in my employment coffin and it certainly was. I was not fired, per se, but I was told that suddenly my position had been absorbed into another college that didn’t need my position filled. I wasn’t offered any replacement position. And I was told that I could receive a severance package under the condition that I didn’t speak of the conditions of my employment or my having been released from my employment.

I turned it down.

My brother recommended I reach out to a law firm but the recommendation he provided was for personal injury law so they likely can’t help me much. I’m looking for some civil rights legal representation to guide me through the steps in filing a wrongful termination suit against my former employer – now I understand that this lawsuit is about me and this is for several reasons: by filing this type of suit and bringing media coverage to it, it will expose the bigger issue of sexual assault on campus and the university’s unwillingness to protect their female students from it; my name will become synonymous with civil rights for this criminally underrepresented group and make it my life’s work to represent them so that that 90% unreported number goes way down; Peck University will be held accountable for their mishandling of assault reports for decades.

If you are familiar with an attorney/practice for this type of work, if it’s you, if it’s someone you worked with, if it’s a family member – no matter who it is, please leave your recommendation in the comments. Further, I’m hopeful that we can find a young woman to take the case to further prove the point that in order for women to be successful, contributive members of society – they need to have supported educational careers. WE can’t expect women to finally take equal standing in society if they’re leaving college early due to the reality or the fear of sexual attacks.

Bummer Stats/Quotations

According to the Rape & Incest National Network, 11.2% of all college students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation. 8.8% of females and 2.2% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 91% of rape/sexual assault victims are female; 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives; 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college; and more than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assult.

When being raped or sexually assaulted is a constant threat to women in particular and women are still expected to continue their studies and take themselves seriously, there exists a problem needing to be addressed.

Having approached Peck University fellow administrators many times for many years and being told some version of “they’re asking for it” over and over again and seeing no change, I hope that this blog will encourage change by shining a light on the area requiring it. I do understand that I will lose my job over this.

Please find below a list of literal responses I’ve received when recounting stories of sexual assault and rape from female students who pay over $30,000 a year to be students at this university, none of which is refundable when a traumatizing (preventable) experience causes them to drop out early:

  • Why was she out partying? She’s underage. She’s just lucky she didn’t get arrested, ticketed, or put on academic probation for indecent conduct. In fact, I’d like to discuss placing her on academic probation, we don’t want the country to view our girls this way.
  • Just don’t make a big deal out of it. Do we have some university subsidized counseling? Send her to the medical office.
  • He’s on the swim team and his father is a big donor. She’s a B- student. Moving on.
  • Gloria please, stop putting these issues on the agenda.

Now I understand that bringing these issues up provides an opportunity for them to be ignored. This is why I’ve been asked to stop including them on meeting agendas or they’ve mysteriously disappeared from the agendas.

But when 91% of assault is against women and 90% of these events are not reported to authorities, the university must assume responsibility for protecting those who pay to be students there. And I’m making it my mission to advocate for this kind of protection. Women are valuable members of society who are systematically denied basic human rights in many sections of their lives, disproportionate to the opportunities available to men. To get to a place of gender equality, we need to start changing the ways we raise and educate both men and women while extending special protections to women until there is resolution within sight.

Goodfellow Hall

For as long as I’ve been employed at Peck, Goodfellow Hall has had the most unfortunate reputation. The students (randomly) housed in this Hall are the rowdiest, partiest and often-disrespectfulest undergraduate students with whom I have ever come into contact. I wondered how they all became so concentrated here, but then started looking into it: Goodfellow Hall has the highest number of transfer requests in the first three months of every new fall semester and has the highest withdrawal rate in the first two weeks of every new Spring semester, for the past seven years. This means that students arrive and immediately want to leave and those that stay have the highest instance of dropping out. This is worthy of study and I’ve requested administration to look into it and close down the hall for a year but they yell numbers at me – as in dollars lost by renting out one less dormitory hall for a year – and close the book. If the only thing deterring students from happily, healthfully and peacefully getting through their undergraduate career is dormitory facilities administered by the university itself, then something has to be done!

I’m not referring only to hard-partying undergrads, which every university in America has to mitigate. I’m also referring the predatory behaviors that undergraduate males from backgrounds of wealthy and entitlement sometimes engage in during their undergraduate studies. Of the number of students requesting transfers away from Goodfellow Hall in the first three months of every new fall semester, 89% of them are female. And of the number of students withdrawing from undergraduate studies altogether in the first two weeks of every new Spring semester, 94% are female.

Females are being systematically weeded out of undergraduate studies at Peck University while the university goes to unbelievable lengths to ensure males are coddled, encouraged, and sent out into the professional world with endless career prospects.

Arthur

Arthur is a 20-year old Caucasian male from the Gold Coast area of Connecticut. His town of New Canaan had the highest median family income in the country in 2008 and his dad was, in his words, “a pillar in the community.” This town, for whatever it’s worth, is literally 95% white. Now, I’m laying all of this out because Arthur (I obviously changed his name and have disguised some of his features throughout the entry to protect his privacy which is far too kind of me) proved himself to have never met a person of color in his life when we met.

I was sitting behind the counter looking at my computer when I felt some eyes upon me. I looked up to see this young man in a navy blue blazer, khaki slacks, boat shoes, and some Clubmaster style sunglasses inside the college administration building. I looked up and met his eyes, he looked utterly bewildered. I asked if I could help him in some way and he asked me to please speak with an administrator because he had to move some classes around. This is something he is fully capable of doing from his university portal, but instead of telling him this I simply told him that I was able to help him.

“No….” he replied, “I need to actually have some things changed so I need your supervisor or someone who actually has access to the systems.” I’m not sure to which systems he was referring but I reassured him that I certainly had access to all systems, including those holding his class schedules. We discussed this for about eight minutes before he finally responded, “Look lady, you obviously can’t help me and I’m sure your supervisor in the janitorial department would be shocked that you’re even pretending.”

Now I knew from the beginning of this conversation that Arthur assumed that because I’m a woman of color, he was speaking a language that I could not understand. In part, he’s correct. I cannot understand the language of white privilege but I could understand English and I came to understand that I was the literal first black woman he had ever encountered in his real life. I don’t look like Beyonce or Nicki Minaj or Tina Turner so he was entirely flabbergasted at how to address me.

Finally he allowed me to pull up his class schedule and he was in the process of dropping the classes Civil Rights Litigation and Constitutional History because his dad told him that there was no reason to have any race-related education since he’d be moving back to New Canaan to become a partner in his dad’s firm and they have no need for racial diversity in action or thought. Plus, he pointed out, that class is Friday mornings at 9:00 and there was no way he’d be up by then after Thirsty Thursday.

Arthur never finished his law degree at Peck University. I don’t know what happened to him and I’ve never looked into it.