GUEST ROOM | It’s On You: Create a Culture of Accountability Regarding Sexual Violence

When it comes to sexual assault, plausible deniability is essential to keeping the peace at academic institutions. Inconvenient truths get shoved to the side in deference to maintaining academic achievement, social networks and professional reputation. Victims resort to silence in an unsupportive institutional framework. 

And this isn’t the fault of the University, per se. Administration does what they’ve been trained to do and what they’ve always done. They’ll release a statement, put resource-laden stickers on bathroom stall doors and do what they can to comply with Title IX and other state and federal laws. 

During my time at Cornell, I immersed myself in that same bureaucracy as a Residential Advisor, on the Academic Integrity Hearing Board, and through the Wilderness First Responder course and empathy training with EARS — all with the hope of mastering the protocols that address physical and emotional trauma through the lens (and occasional support) of the University. So, as someone who has actively spent the last four years interfacing with the way Cornell earnestly attempts to support students, I can tell you: We cannot and should not leave the onus of helping victims of sexual assault to the rusty gears of University administration.