It is a sardonic truth that, while Harvard alumna are advocating the erasure of an adjective from our lexicon through the use of hashtags, current Harvard students are shattering the glass ceiling of authoritative apathy in the fashion of John Peter Zenger (#freedomofpress). Last month, The Harvard Crimson published an editorial that detailed the sexual assault of a now social pariah following an incident of coercion that took place in 2013, indicating that Harvard is #winning.The anonymous victim underscored the passivity of Harvard’s administration in responding to her request that the school relocate her accused assailant to a different House, limiting the amount of incidental contact until Harvard completed its investigations. Though the elite institution upholds the axiom “Veritas”, its dismissive course of action towards the assault indicates a transgression against the pursuit of truth, fostering a vicious cycle during which society condones the egregious axioms that “boys will be boys,” and “girls will be victims.”
Within the current framework that supports the indifferent system, a facade has carefully been sustained through the subterfuge of academic prestige and accolades (#legacy). Somewhere beneath the surface lies an epidemic of silence that perpetuates the implicit branding of scarlet letters that induce ostracization. This lack of institutional validation is not exclusive to Harvard; following The Crimson’s muckraking piece, 25 Columbia students recently filed a 100 page complaint under Title II and IX that accused Columbia’s administration of punishing survivors by breeding “serial rapists” and discouraging the report of assaults. Following suit the next week, a Brown University student organized a press conference to initiate disciplinary action against a fellow student who violently raped her. 16 Yale students additionally filed a Title IX complaint in 2011 and have revisited their petitions after the notorious fraternity DKE espoused the chant “No means yes, and yes means anal,” signalling an admission that women are merely players (#Shakespeare). Dartmouth’s dissenters have further demanded new policies regarding campus safety to prevent sexual assault.
As the shrill cry of a rape whistle echoes into deafening silence, an urgent song of a Siren asserting student-led reform is conspicuously resounding. Harvard’s Undergraduate Student Council’s recent meeting with Dean Faust, which resulted in a revised sexual assault policy, indicates that galvanizing change requires grassroots activism. The protests that resulted from the publication of the Crimson editorial fostered much-needed awareness for sexual abuse; however, to sustain this evolving rationale of cognitive equity, Ivy League students must assume their implicit roles as the bastions of exceptionalism (#cityuponahill). Women in power–aspiring Harvard students who aim to follow Sheryl Sandberg in leaning into their ambitions and acquiring executive positions–should wield their authority to actualize self-development by introducing an exit from the Cave of insular perception (#Plato), upholding a standard of respect between the genders that is not blinded by chromosomal distribution.
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