The #MeToo campaign has evolved from a social media phenomenon into a moment in time where countless women victimized by sexual harassment and assault are finally being heard. As a result of their courage to speak out, some of the most powerful men in Hollywood, media, and politics have stepped down from high-level positions and apologized for sexual misconduct.
Although the movement has triggered a new awakening and energy around the epidemic of rape and rape culture, the issue has long plagued students on college campuses. Earlier this month, The New York Times reported on how the issue is being handled at two elite historically black colleges, Spelman and Morehouse. According to the report, students disseminated flyers reading “Morehouse Protects Rapists” and ‘Spelman Protects Rapists” around both campuses, while a Morehouse chapel was defaced with a sign saying “Practice What You Preach Morehouse + End Rape Culture.” In addition, more than 70 professors at Spelman signed an open letter expressing support for a student-led campaign against sexual assault.
One student said she decided not to issue a formal complaint against the Morehouse men, who she says gang-raped her at an off-campus party, due to fear and intimidation. “I’ve had someone tell me to my face that I’m tarnishing the reputation of Morehouse by speaking out,” a 21-year-old Spelman student Euphoria Davis told The New York Times.
Black Enterprise reached out to the HBCUs for comment in response to the article.
“We take all sexual misconduct violations seriously, and if we find that any of our scholars, faculty, or staff are in violation of our Code of Conduct, they are subject to disciplinary action, which may include expulsion for students and termination for faculty or staff,” reads a statement from Morehouse.
Likewise, Spelman stated that each report of sexual assault is taken seriously and that the institution is exploring different channels to tackle this issue. “Spelman, as an educational institution, is taking a close look how we might provide a more in-depth and sustained first-year experience and beyond that will educate Spelman students on a wide range of issues related to the protection of their rights as women,” reads a statement.
“The College also plans to invite a conversation among Spelman, Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University leadership to discuss how we might have a joint set of activities throughout the academic year, such as a lecture series or some other form of collective conversation that might encourage healthy relationships among all of our students.”