Campus Newspaper Responds to President's Tone-Deaf Letter About Rape

On Tuesday we told you about Eckerd College President Donald Eastman’s rather regrettable letter to the student body, which suggested that sexual harassment and sexual assault might be avoided if the students could simply cut back on their drinking and casual sexing. The editors of the Current, the campus newspaper, have responded with a letter of their own, giving Eastman the politest, most respectful, most devastating dressing-down you’ve ever seen.

The letter — signed by Current editor-in-chief Sydney Cavero, managing editors Gary Furrow and Teresa Young, and seemingly everyone else on staff, begins by saying that they believe Eastman wrote his missive in a “spirit of genuine concern.” The editors then go on to merrily and thoroughly destroy every line of Eastman’s letter in a manner that would make any English or rhetoric teacher proud:

The Current’s editorial board is addressing this letter because we feel that it is not inclusive and, both through language and important data omissions, runs the risk of victim-blaming. The complexities and consequences of sexual assault cannot be fully understood or mitigated in the 300 words of Eastman’s email. Eckerd claims to be an inclusive, progressive liberal arts college, yet the president’s letter seems to pair a modern-day problem with archaic and ineffective solutions.
The first of these solutions is “limiting your own consumption of alcohol, and encouraging your friends to do the same.” Though both sexual assault and excessive alcohol consumption are important discussions, they should occur separately…
Though precautions are beneficial, we must remember that sober victims also exist. Correlation and causation differ greatly; this correlation between the two factors — alcohol consumption and sexual assault — does not mean that one causes the other. Addressing it alongside sexual misconduct without explicitly underscoring this distinction runs the risk of victim-blaming by insinuating that these atrocities would not have happened had they been sober.

And here they are on Eastman’s suggestion that Eckerd students stop slutting around and casual sexing everywhere:

This call to abstinence outside of commitment and return to virtue in the midst of a discussion about sexual assault is misplaced, inappropriate and highly subjective.
Though there is evidence both for and against casual sex, it is a separate conversation from that of sexual assault. Abstinence from casual sex on behalf of the survivor will not change a perpetrator’s mind if they are planning to violate them.

The entire piece is embedded with links to relevant research, resources for students on campus and ends with a call for, as they put it, “well-informed conversations about consent and other complex aspects of sexual assault.” The last line is a very civilized, utterly devastating burn: “As this discussion continues in higher education around the country, we hope that the president will join us in refraining from comments that inhibit its progress, and instead join the forces that are moving the conversation forward.”

If you have a microphone, Current editors, you can feel free to drop it now. You’ve earned it.

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