Today, SASV members installed the two banners pictured below on Ballantine to address the complicity of IU administration in the perpetuation of sexual violence in Bloomington, and to inform others of this event. The top banner was taken down within 5 minutes, and the second was removed about 15 minutes later. It is clear that, when students voice dissatisfaction with the university’s priorities, their response is not to listen, but to shut us down.
Many believe that IU is apathetic towards campus rape, or that administration recognizes the problem but is simply unequipped to resolve it. We propose that, rather, the university has a vested interest in maintaining the normalcy of sexual assault on campus, and in silencing those who speak out against it. IU is not merely an apathetic or cavalier bystander to the rape culture here; it is an active aggressor.
IU is in a unique position in that its research prowess allows for simultaneously maintaining both a reputation as a ‘party school’ and as a legitimate academic institution. This can be – and is – used to foster and market a party culture that draws wealthy, often out of state, students to the university. Not coincidentally, many of these students are part of the ‘Greek’ system, an institution that administrators have a strong financial incentive to cater to. Fraternities breed loyal and generous alumni donors, save them untold millions of dollars in student housing (that they do not have to build or maintain, allowing for the admission of even more students), and serve as a form of advertising for even more potential wealthy donors in the form of undergraduate recruits. The decision to protect fraternities and keep them happy, even when they enact violence against other students, is therefore simply good financial sense.
This division of students – who matters to the university and who doesn’t – can easily be seen when considering who the university feels serves them best financially. This has created a campus culture where some students are allowed to rape with impunity, so long as they are valuable to the university. Fraternity houses that are especially dangerous for women are coddled. Known rapists remain on sports teams, bringing revenue in. Serial rapists with this power know that they are free to violate as many women as they please, and that they can do so with IU’s protection. Their victims are silenced, maligned, and often outright threatened, by university officials. The violation of female and non-binary bodies at Indiana University is the price that administrators happily pay in order to keep funds rolling in.
When IU representatives claim that sexual violence is not the norm on our campus, they are lying. When they claim to be doing everything in their power to eradicate it, they are lying. When President McRobbie claims that he cares, he is lying. We will not be silenced. We will not accept the violation of our bodies as sacrifices for the ‘greater good’ of building the university endowment. They did not win in removing our banners today; they simply reaffirmed to us who they really are. Whether you agree with our analysis of the problem or not – let your voice be heard with us tomorrow.