It’s on us.
I am the problem. I, as in the black man. I, as in the man. I am a freshman English major at Morehouse College, and I live in Graves Hall.
On Nov. 11, a horrific letter detailing a satirical and disgusting expectation of consent was posted on Twitter for all of the world to see. At the top of the letter, it reads “Graves Sexual Consent Form.” Immediately, as the letter was posted on the social media website, it went viral.
My fellow dorm mates and I briskly began hyperventilating and collectively pondered the hall’s soon to be broken reputation. We were all repulsed and embarrassed about what the letter entailed.
“Well, I don’t appreciate the fact that more people in the hall seem to be more concerned about the fact that it looks bad on Graves Hall, and not the fact that this perpetuates rape culture throughout the AUC,” Clark Atlanta University freshman Tayla Camper said. “Even though I’m a freshman and haven’t experienced this myself out here, it’s still bad and has happened to a lot of people, and it just gets swept under, and they’re not doing anything about it.”
There’s a problem with this picture.
The eruption should absolutely not be about the dorm’s reputation. Worrying about the self-image of the dorm is selfish and utterly irrelevant. The self-image of the dorm and college should never outweigh the evident problem at hand – in this case, the damage done to rape survivors.
“I think it’s kind of gross that people are focusing on the ‘Graves part,’ like no, some of the brothers on your hall have the same mindset,” Spelman College freshman Adriane McDonald said.
We need to have this discussion. It’s on Us.
The Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, visited Morehouse on Nov. 10 to speak about the White House’s “It’s On Us” initiative that was created to combat sexual assault on campuses.
“I am an Ambassador for the ‘It’s On Us’ campaign, and I think it’s very unfortunate that this happened at Morehouse the day after the vice president came,” Morehouse College freshman Jarrell Jordan said about the controversial Graves Hall post.
“I would’ve thought my brothers would’ve gained some knowledge from the Vice President about these things and why it shouldn’t happen, but the fact that [they] didn’t is very sad and it shows the brotherhood is not as strong as we thought it was, because this is something that could’ve been handled in the halls and not on social media. I think that in the AUC and Morehouse, we have a lot to work on.”
The mission of the initiative is, “To recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault. To identify situations in which sexual assault may occur. To intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given. To create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.” (Itsonus.org)
Although I am being repetitive, I cannot express enough that there is an apparent problem if the Vice President of the United States takes the time to visit, and a scandal like ours appears in less than 24 hours.
It is vital that there is a shift in the culture. It is vital that Graves Hall, Morehouse College and the rest of the male world look into the mirror to realize that we are the problem. We must support sexual assault survivors and do everything in our power to prevent future assaults.
The world is lacking accountability. “It’s On Us” to change that.