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Sexual assault is no laughing matter -- it’s something that people are urged to take seriously and report to authorities. But what happens when administrators and law enforcement, the ones we count on to keep us safe, tell us “not to make a big deal out of it?”
When Emerson College sophomore Sarah Tedesco reported her sexual assault school administrators, not only did they wait three months to begin an investigation, but an administrator told her she “shouldn’t be making a big deal with it.” Excuse me?
During this time, Tedesco claims the same student sexually assaulted her again. Instead of taking immediate action, the school told her maybe she should take a semester off and pressured her to keep the case a school matter and not report it to the Cambridge police.
The school investigation itself ended with the accused student being found “not responsible.”
Did the school have its mind made up from the beginning?
Being a senior at the University of Georgia, a school of roughly 35,000 undergraduates and graduate students, sexual assault is a common entry in the crime blotter. It happens so often that some girls think they’d just be another statistic if they reported a case and never reach out for the help and justice they need. That’s not how it should be.
Each and every case of sexual assault that occurs should be reported! No girl should have to wonder if she was in the wrong or if people will judge her or if her case is worthy. We need people there to back us up no matter what. We definitely do not need someone to tell us not to make a big deal out of it.
Whether responsible or not, the school handled the matter in completely the wrong way. Campuses shouldn’t worry about what a sexual assault will look like on them. Emerson College was not concerned about its student, it was just worried about saving face.
A story at my school was recently published in the student-run newspaper, The Red & Black, cited that the top reasons why women were not reporting sexual assault cases were “Fear of being treated hostilely by police, police not taking it seriously enough and police wouldn’t want to be bothered.” There is a big, giant disconnect there. The police know that the numbers in their system do not reflect the number of actual cases of sex crimes out there. They know that women are underreporting, but they're not doing anything about it.
It’s time to take matters into our own hands. If enough girls continue to come forward with their cases, school administrators and police will have to listen. It might be hard. It might be painful. But these people have to start understanding that this is serious.The only thing that’ll look worse than having high counts of sexual assaults on campus is trying to cover these cases up and then making national news. Congratulations, Emerson. Glad your plan backfired.