BY ANNA WONDRASEK
It was heartbreaking in its lack of uniqueness and in the way that Drake’s initial lack of a statement made other students feel as if they could no longer trust their administration to protect them. Even when a statement was made, students felt as if it was too little, too late. Because we had to glean our information from outside news sources instead of hearing directly from our administration, it felt like the administration was hiding something deliberately.
The biggest problem with this situation, for me, wasn’t even the administration’s lack of response in and of itself. It was the way that response made students feel as if they had to resort to anonymity to be heard at all. I have heard a lot of people condemning the Drake Students for Justice account for not wanting to meet with the provost in person, claiming that the only reason to keep anonymity is to keep your power.
To this I say, that seems like a fairly straightforward reason. By coming forward and identifying yourself, you give people the ability to silence you.
That being said, I don’t know if anonymity was the best way for students to voice their frustrations about the way that the administration seemed to be handling things.
However, I also can’t say that I know of a better route that they should have taken.
What I do know is that the email from President Martin on April 30 both cleared things up and created more questions. I understand that there were issues of confidentiality surrounding the entire investigation and that the administration did not want to break them and potentially put the investigation in jeopardy. What I don’t understand is why it took so long for the students to hear anything after the story was picked up by the Register. Without information from our university, we were left guessing.
I do understand why the university couldn’t give us all the details. To be fair, no one wanted or asked for those details in the first place. What I wanted was for my university to reassure me that yes, they were handling it and that yes, there were procedures in place to protect me. And I didn’t get that until long after the news broke.
So yes, although I understand that there are confidentiality rules in place, I feel as if making a statement sooner rather than later is beneficial.
By staying silent, it’s not just the administration who looks bad. That silence makes the university seem unsafe, both to prospective and current students, and I wouldn’t blame anyone who wanted to rescind their commitment to Drake after hearing about this incident. There is already so much in the “real world” that women have to be cautious of. To feel as if our university isn’t doing its part to keep us safe from predators is terrifying.
I do not condemn the university for the actions they took in the Hamad case – I understand that they have obligations and procedures that must be followed. However, I also would not blame anyone if they no longer felt safe coming to the administration about being assaulted or harassed. Drake’s extended silence burned a lot of bridges, and lost a lot of students’ trust. I only hope that instead of brushing criticism aside, our administration acknowledges that trust has been lost and works harder to gain it back.