In the spring of 2013, Willa Murphy was violently raped by a fellow Georgetown student.
It was such a traumatic experience that it took over a year after her rape before she was able to tell anyone, not uncommon for survivors. It was only in June 2014, after she had taken a medical leave of absence and been off campus since that January, that she officially told the school she had been raped.
I learned all of this two weeks ago, when I met Willa for the first time.
Willa should be a rising senior in the College, majoring in women’s and gender studies. Now, she is unsure whether she’ll even graduate from Georgetown at all (although her rapist almost certainly will). As traumatic as her rape was, she says the way Georgetown treated her after she tried to report has been worse.
Willa has had to fend for herself to secure the few accommodations Georgetown has begrudgingly given her (not to mention the times they denied her requests for accommodations), despite the fact that legally, Title IX requires the provision of reasonable accommodations to survivors.
Last summer, she also tried to report the name of her rapist to the Georgetown University Police Department, only to be severely re-traumatized by that experience. After she asked to speak to someone about sexual assault, she overheard two officers disparaging her, having looked her up using the information she gave them. She specifically remembers two things she heard them say: “She was suspended in January, what is she even doing here?” and “What the hell are you gonna do with her?”
As she listened, she remembers seeing the university’s public announcement video about sexual assault on the flat-screens in the waiting room. Eventually they gave her the phone number of a female officer, which she threw away immediately after leaving the office, trying to hold back tears. This was “everything that I was afraid of,” as Willa put it. That would be her last interaction with GUPD.
Last summer, when she tried to return to campus, there was roadblock after administrative roadblock. At first, her dean suggested she take classes elsewhere. When she said she wanted to stay in D.C., he suggested, among other schools, University of the District of Columbia Community College. He assured Willa, who took AP Calculus in high school, that credits from UDC-CC would transfer to Georgetown — except if she took algebra.
If not for the help of a pro bono lawyer from the Network for Victim Recovery of D.C., she would not have been allowed to come back in fall 2014 at all. Despite her readmission, the obstruction on the part of the university left her burnt out and re-traumatized — three weeks into that semester, she withdrew under extreme pressure by administrators. Her dean used the fact that her rapist was still on campus to persuade her and her mother that she would never be able to academically succeed at Georgetown — not before suggesting she return after he graduated.
This spring, Willa got the Council on Studies to “entertain” her petition to return that summer. Two weeks ago, Willa received an F in her four-week pre-session “Introduction to Ethics” class (it was the first time she had been in a classroom in almost a year). Originally, she had planned on retaking “Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies,” for a better grade, since she had previously received a D as a direct result of the trauma from her rape. Despite this being the foundational class of her major, Willa’s dean sent her a patronizing email “reminding” her that she could not retake a class she had already gotten credit for, forcing her to drop that class and switch to “Introduction to Ethics,” which she failed. Because of that F, the university has expelled her.
The university justified expelling Willa based on that F grade, despite her professor asking the dean’s office for a grade change one week after the class ended. She appealed this dismissal and on July 9th, she sat before an appeals panel, composed of a physics professor, a computer science professor, and a college dean she had never met, while they looked at her case file and asked her questions about her rape, its aftermath and why she thought she should be allowed to come back. They handed down a decision: she could take a voluntary withdrawal instead of dismissal.
Behind institutionally perpetrated injustice, there are always good people hiding somewhere in the midst, working within the system to fight the good fight. Ultimately, though, nothing is clear-cut except the actual consequences the system inflicts.
Instead of standing with Willa, or asking what she needs, the university has consistently pushed her to leave campus and has made no effort to find ways to make sure she could finish her Georgetown education. Regardless of their intentions, it is no exaggeration to say that these administrators are ruining Willa’s life.
Instead of streamlining the administrative process to make it clearer for survivors, the dean’s office made Willa go through committee after committee after committee, each time having to repeat how she was raped. It didn’t help that she had difficulty recounting the list of different people or offices that she had contacted for help since she was raped, because it was so long: Title IX coordinators and sub-coordinators, therapists, psychiatrists, professors, the Academic Resource Center, Student Health Services, GUPD and three different deans within the dean’s office.
Yet even through all that, Willa trusted that Georgetown would do the right thing, and therefore had not gone public about her mistreatment at the hands of administrative bureaucracy.
Willa has experienced the oppressive, almost insurmountable weight of injustice. The weight of injustice is Willa covering her living room table and floor in Title IX guidance, documents from her case file from the dean’s office, and more legal papers. The weight of injustice is Willa receiving dehumanizing emails that just talk past her. The weight of injustice is Willa navigating a legal minefield with no adequate support system within the university structure. The weight of injustice is Willa typing “Title IX” into her inbox and getting lost in a sea of exchanges with so many different administrators it makes my head spin. The weight of injustice is Willa’s hair falling out because of the stress of being a rape survivor. The weight of injustice is Willa accruing interest on her student loans while not being allowed to be a Georgetown student. The weight of injustice is Willa having to pay for the summer school class she failed because the university would not provide her with accommodations — as her dean replied to her professor: “All the other students were graded on work that was does done within the proper time [of four weeks] and this [accommodation] would give her an unfair advantage and becomes an issue of equity.”
Injustice is the administration refusing to accept Willa’s philosophy final a week late, so they can expel her for failing while being on academic probation; yet, they had no problem giving her an additional week to think about changing her expulsion status to a voluntary withdrawal, ignoring a previous email from Willa to her dean: “Since I was raped, nothing about this has been voluntary. So I do not voluntarily withdraw.”
I honestly have no idea how she keeps track of everything, how she keeps going every day, how she still has so much fight in her. College is hard enough; Willa’s experience proves it is nearly impossible for survivors.
That’s the thing though — Willa is a survivor in every sense of the word, but she is also so much more than that. She has this incredibly witty and intelligent humor that often flies over my head; she is unbelievably kind; she has a remarkable passion for women’s and gender studies; she is a killer makeup artist; she knows pop culture like the back of her hand and can quote verbatim skits from “Key and Peele” and “Kroll Show,” and has an encyclopedia of reaction gifs; she can show you every YouTube video you never knew you had to see — she once watched Bill Clinton’s 2012 address to the Democratic National Convention, “to get pumped up” for a night out with friends. Above all, she has this unrelenting desire to learn and analyze and reflect. She belongs at Georgetown.
Perhaps most impressive is Willa’s strength, courage, persistence and deeply embedded sense of purpose. She has the kind of bravery of which most people only dream; she has this unyielding drive that is practically unheard of. Willa is fighting not just for herself, but every other survivor out there.
As a condition of publishing this piece, Willa wanted to make clear that she only speaks for herself and for her experience; however, if she — a white, upper-middle class, straight, cisgender, able-bodied female, with a tremendously supportive family — had this difficult of a time of dealing with Georgetown and being a survivor on campus, there are probably people with much worse experiences than hers.
In my opinion, Willa’s commitment to justice, especially in the face of tremendous adversity, makes her as much of a Hoya as any student actually allowed to attend Georgetown. Clearly, given the administration’s institutional problems, our campus needs Willa and her moral compass now more than ever.
Being a true Hoya means taking pride in our Jesuit identity. “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam — “for the greater glory of God” — is plastered all over our campus, and yet what the administration is doing to Willa is downright sinful. “Contemplation in action” is another hallmark of Georgetown’s Jesuit identity, and yet the administration seems to be going through Willa’s case in the most impersonal, meaningless way possible. We pride ourselves in “cura personalis” and “educating the whole person” — apparently survivors don’t count.
As Hoyas, we need to take back our Georgetown and rewrite our reputation, so all survivors know we are truly women and men for others. And more importantly, as human beings with a conscience and beating hearts, we need to stand with Willa because the administration has failed to do so.
If Willa is permanently expelled from Georgetown, which it increasingly appears like that will happen despite appeals, she wants to make sure that she left having done everything she could for all the other survivors that remain. We all have a moral obligation to ensure that her righteous struggle is not in vain. There are unfathomable systemic injustices that we must make sure no other survivor on Georgetown’s campus ever has to experience.
Zoe Dobkin is a rising senior in the School of Foreign Service. Willa Murphy entered Georgetown in fall 2012 as a member of the Class of 2016.
Editor’s Note: Zoe Dobkin wrote this piece in collaboration with Willa Murphy; thus, they share a byline. For reasons of clarity and subject matter, we have elected to keep this piece in Zoe Dobkin’s voice, to which instances of first-person perspective should be attributed.
Chandini Jha says
We often hear the statistic that one in five women ( and one in 32 men) are sexually assaulted while undergraduates. Putting a story behind these numbers puts the whole tragedy, and injustice, of sexual assault in context. It’s unthinkable that survivors need to go through layers upon layers of emotional exhaustion just in dealing with administrators. Willa and Zoe, thank you so much for publishing this piece. I’m really, really really proud of you guys, and glad to call you my friends.
The 1 in 5 statistic is completely made up by the way, and using such a ridiculous fake statistic only hurts the cause.
Yup, hilariously there are enough idiots to believe it/propagate it without so much as a cursory look at the flawed studies that flat out lie about this.
Eli Shekelberg says
Listen here, denying a rape occurred and victim blaming as you are clearly doing here is the same as denying the holocaust as far as I’m concerned.
12 million Jews lost their lives because of the same anti-semitic and victim blaming attitudes that are flagrantly on display here, in your comment.
You are denying the victims right to free speech when you start accusing the statistics, and instead are engaging in hate-speech of your own, which is illegal I might add. Free speech can only be tolerated up to a certain point. And you crossed that line.
Connor White says
Neither of the comments you replied to denied that a particular rape happened, nor that there is a culture enabling rape. They questioned a study that they believe used dubious methods.
Instead of informing them why they’re wrong you accused them of being hateful.
Fortunately, there are no hate speech laws in the USA, because the founders are well aware that it is the threat of violence (particularly from the state) that limits free speech, not ideas with which you disagree.
Max Epstein says
Wait just a second there.
I just read your comment, and it seems that you are saying that the holocaust is the result of a “dubious study.” WHAT ARE YOU SAYING. I personally had all my family die in the holocaust and I wont stand to see their memory or their story questioned. Facts are facts. People decide what facts are. Thats how science and history works. And if people decided that 1 in 5 girls are raped on campus, who are you to say that they are lying? REally? You want us to doubt the word of VICTIMS? These are people who are traumatized in ways that you couldn’t possibly understand. Maybe you think you are a big guy, but these comments can be extremely painful for you as well. Take a second to figure out what the next step in your master plan should be. Should you keep harassing people who have the courage to come forward with their story, or maybe you should stop trying to crash stories about survivors.
This guys for all you goys that are trying to be clever and disparage this young lady’s story.
Warning, do not feed the trolls
(1) It does not follow from a) X aggregate crime statistic is inaccurate to b) this particular incidence Y of said crime was not committed.
(2) You comparison to the Holocaust is simply outrageous and non-sensical.
(3) Criticizing a statistic or an argument is not the same as “denying free speech.” If I were to claim that Georgetown has a 50% acceptance rate, you could right claim that that is inaccurate, and that in fact, it is closer to 20%. Such an incident would not be a violation of speech rights, it would be a correction of inaccurate statistics.
So, 1 in 5 is in fact the correct number. Other studies that showcase other #s such as crime surveys ask survivors to identify as crime victims, which lowers the numbers significantly and incorrectly. A sizable chunk of them do not measure incapacitated sexual assault, which is extremely common on a college campus.
The Campus Sexual Assault Survey (CSA), where 1 in 5 comes from, asks individuals about particular types of unwanted sexual contact. Since a lot of rape survivors do not identify as such, asking people whether or not certain things have happened to them is a better way to capture prevalence data. CSA was conducted at 2 large universities and has been corroborated by the MIT climate survey.
(https://web.mit.edu/surveys/health/MIT-CASA-Survey-Summary.pdf) — Even here you can see the difference in people stating they have been sexually assaulted (10% of women) and people stating that action that would constitute sexual assault (17% of women or almost 1 in 5) have happened to them.
The study you cite occurred on a single campus, with a 35% response rate, and with self-selected responders. It does not prove that 1 in 5 is the correct number. The other studies I am aware of that support this statistic suffer from similar flaws. So, we can’t be certain 1 in 5 is correct – and until we have certainty, we should not base policies on campuses and in congress on that figure.
Ira Goldplatz says
Free speech is just an excuse for white supremacists to call my people kikes. It’s awful.
The only fools still clinging to ‘free speech’ are too stupid to realize the damage they’re doing. Questioning rape statistics, for example, is a great way to trigger the brave survivors of sexual assault; who is helped, I ask? Who benefits?
Rapists. It seems clear that only rapists are pushing to maintain free speech.
Sundra Midota says
You’re kidding right
Allen Goldsteinberg says
oy vey Indeed!
Did you actually just try to compare a single rape case to the Holocaust?
Willa and Zoe, thank you so so much for being so brave as to share this piece. I think there is an idea that “it doesn’t happen here” on the hilltop, and that that is so far from the truth is a completely unacceptable tragedy that people need to be made aware of. I’m hoping this spreads to everyone in the Georgetown community and that we start to see real change in the way the university treats survivors of assault. I know that I, along with tons of others, stand with you 100%.
Lexi Dever says
This is horrifying. This is disgusting. It is a complete disgrace that this school, which is our HOME, can be so brutally hostile to those of us most in need of help. You’d think a university that is so very proud of its Catholic status would, well, be a little more Christlike. Thank you for speaking up, Willa and Zoe. Willa, I stand with you, and know that many, many Hoyas do, even if our administration does not.
Supportive Alumna says
Thank you Willa (and Zoe) for sharing such a personal story with all of us. You are both heroes and I am sorry that all of this happened to you Willa, no person deserves to be treated this way and by an institution that claims to care for its students’ whole bodies, no less. This is shameful and Georgetown should be investigated for its conduct on this matter.
Is there anything current students and graduates can do to shed more light on sexual assault at Georgetown in general and on this instance in particular? I try to stay current on campus news, share information on social media, etc. but if there’s more I can do, I would like to do so.
This resonates so strongly with my friends’ complaints about how they were treated when they sought support for mental health issues. They too were hounded into leaves of absence or withdrawals or whatever. The administration quite simply doesn’t want you on campus once you become a liability.
I agree, Willa’s struggles with the administration are very similar to those with mental illness. I was forced into a medical leave against my will simply because I wasn’t the average Georgetown student. They claim to care for the whole person, cura personalis, but as soon as you become a liability they kick you out. In the end my leave was technically “voluntary,” but it was set up so that my options were suspension for being a “community disruption” or taking a voluntary medical leave. Legally they can’t force a medical leave, but they can find other ways to make it happen, and they do.
john burns says
as a straight male who is an ally of the feminist community i believe more needs to be done about rape culture today. accusations of rape should not be brushed away but taken more seriously, for a start every male accused of rape should be presumed guilty until proven innocent. it would be a step forwards to a more equal world.
Dear John – not sure if you are being sarcastic or serious by suggesting that all those accused of rape be presumed guilty until proven innocent. If you are being sarcastic then you’re a jerk, this story should be taken seriously. On the other hand if you really think that people should be considered guilty until proven innocent that is perhaps even more horrifying. Keep on supporting survivors of sexual assault but please maybe read To Kill a Mockingbird or do some serious thinking about what type of society you want to live in.
current hoya says
I am an ally of the feminist movement as well, but presuming accused rapists as guilty until proven innocent…. ? I don’t even know how to respond to that statement. Think before you speak.
Zoe and Willa, thanks for sharing this story. I would say that I’m surprised by the University’s actions, or lack thereof, but I would be lying. Georgetown has time and again disappointed the members of its community by failing to ameliorate, or even address issues of social injustice.
The callousness by which the university treats not just victims of violence like Willa but others who have gone through various forms of trauma be it physical, emotional, and racial, as well as various forms mental illness is down right deplorable and is a mockery of the so-called Jesuit traditions on which it was formed. I chose Georgetown believing that the values here would mean I wouldn’t be treated like a faceless number like in so many large universities and even the more prestigious ones. However, after hearing about the experiences of those like Willa and other friends who have had to navigate the deeply flawed mental illness policies here, that belief has been completely obliterated.. It seems as if Georgetown only abides by “cura personalis’ if that personalis is already a fine tuned caricature of the well-adjusted graduates it seeks to produce. However, when it comes to those who are most in need of care and understanding the university is at best inept and at worst completely indifferent. I applaud you Zoe and Willa for bringing this story to light and I stand with you and (hopefully) the rest of the student body in holding the university to account on the values that it preaches.
I just want to say that I have been raped before. And I immediately went to the police. My best friend was raped when she was 19. She immediately went to the police too. I don’t believe this story for one second. Only when my sister married a police officer in LA did I gain another perspective on the problem of reporting rape. The police get A LOT of fake rape reports. Do you know what the benchmark they almost always use is to decide whether someone is telling the truth or not? Its basically how long you wait until you report it. The longer the wait, the more doubt that the victim has about whether or not they were raped. What is shocking is the number of girls who did not believe they were rape, but just regretted their choice who end up being convinced by their friends in college that they were raped. They come to my brother in law’s station sometimes and explain what happened and often times its not even considered rape by the police! These young ladies have been brainwashed to believe that being stared at or being spoken to harshly, or having buyers remorse is the equivalent of getting raped! The police then have to explain why they cant do anything, and try to inform the young lady to make smarter decisions. They are then called rape defenders online because they are just doing their job!
Crystal Walker says
Wow…what a very insensitive and awful thing to say. Did you know that because of TRAUMA, many rape survivors often don’t tell of their rapes because it brings up too much pain to recount that experience. You may have been raped yourself, but every experience is different and just because she didn’t act the way you think she should, doesn’t mean her story isn’t valid. Wow laurie, you are the perfect example of what perpetuating rape culture looks like and exactly why we need to eradicate it.
Amanda Polwright says
Did you really just say that a rape victim is perpetuating rape culture? That is cognitive dissonance at its worst. Yet another example of why feminism does not represent real women, but only a tiny, crazy minority, that drowns out everyone that doesn’t agree with them. What do you want to eradicate? Her voice? Her story? Do you want to eradicate someone that doesn’t agree with you in the name of your cause? Hmm, why does that sound familiar..
Crystal’s comment is essentially the perfect example of how fascist rhetoric works. She does not care about Laurie’s own personal experience, nor does she care about her message regarding the length of time it takes for someone to report a rape. I’m sorry, but when you start drowning out very valid personal experiences of someone who has been raped, and accuse them of perpetuating a culture of rape, you have committed a grave sin in terms of reason. Please, I beg you to reconsider attacking anyone who does not share your exact stance; how terrible of you to denigrate someone else’s equally valid perspective…
Rape culture is not just the culture that gives rise to the abuses themselves, it is also the culture that allows/accepts appalling reactions to those abuses. One aspect of rape culture is the assertion that victims automatically have to report their rape within a certain time frame for it to be true/valid. So yes, laurie is a rape victim; separately, yes, she is perpetuating this aspect of rape culture. Being a victim does not give one carte blanche to dictate how/when other victims should share, report, handle, confront their abuse in order to be considered valid. There are SO many cases of victims finally feeling like they are able to speak out about trauma that happened in the past, which at the time they may not have reported due to a wide array of possible reasons that you are apparently unable to wrap your brain around: personal (such as being clinically/mentally unable to face what happened), legitimate fear that you will just face victim blaming (such as going to a POLICE OFFICER and being told you are lying, which as laurie’s story verifies is an appallingly real problem), or any number other reasons (including, but not limited to: worry that your family will consider you of lesser value– a legitimate fear in families of some cultures; worry that you don’t have an adequate support system that allows you face the onslaught of paperwork, univ. administrative processes, etc.; or, apparently, that other victims will also say you are lying). Maybe Laurie should pause and consider (believe) that other victims are in shoes that are not her own; and how her disbelief and dismissal of anyone who waits to report assault is, as a blanket reaction, simply factually incorrect, and as a human response, lacks empathy. If you are concerned that people do not have proper empathy for Laurie and are denigrating her experience, consider her harmful lack of empathy for Willa and the fact that she herself is denigrating every victim who later reports their abuse…
Schlomo Goldstein says
Where is the evidence? Why is she pursuing this via social media and not the police?
After the Rolling Stone debacle I can no long take accusations without proof seriously, especially when demands of guilt are made without proof, without an investigation.
One way of looking at the recalcitrant behavior of Georgetown is the administration knows this accusation is without merit and they wisely sent a harasser home who had spent a year slandering a student with rape accusations.
The other student, who so many here in the comments have already judged a vile rapist, solely on an article, solely on the accusations of one person, was probably lucky enough to have connected parents to run cover against this slanderous behavior.
If he had been poor, or god forbid, black, he would already be in prison because of an accusation.
And yet, this article didn’t talk about Willa’s rapist at all. This was about the university failing to provide the support a rape victim needed, not about the university failing to discipline a rapist. Maybe the university should have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to expel a rapist or hand him over to police, but the university shouldn’t require a victim to provide the same level of proof just to support her and allow her to be a student.
Paul S. Wright says
Oy gevalt! Questioning rape accusations contributes to rape culture. No woman would lie about rape!
You, person, are a prime example of why victims are terrorized to never speak out even when they are flagrantly mistreated. If anything ever happens to you and you actually know your perpetrator, but don’t happen to have magical photos, videos, and dna evidence to corroborate something you never expected to happen, I hope that those who were charged with advocating for you do not try to silence and exile you, after discrediting you and implying that your trauma was either your fault, or simply made up. I hope you never have to experience this, because it’s obvious you never have by the way you speak.
Split Alumna says
While I am sincerely sorry for what Willa had to go through, I firmly stand by the fact that Georgetown should not have to make exceptions to its academic policies. For Willa’s case, and for many others no matter their ordeal, the policy of medical leave exists for the very reason of supporting students through trauma while also ensuring that all students on campus adhere to the same standards. I support Willa, I do not support what this article is attempting to express.
Split Feelings says
Agreed. One particular passage that stood out to me was this one:
The weight of injustice is Willa having to pay for the summer school class she failed because the university would not provide her with accommodations — as her dean replied to her professor: “All the other students were graded on work that was does done within the proper time [of four weeks] and this [accommodation] would give her an unfair advantage and becomes an issue of equity.”
Is this to imply that Georgetown ought to give free classes to rape victims? Or make the class easier or assign less work? The facts are simple and independent – if Willa was not able to complete the class, she should not have registered for it. All the sympathy and empathy in the world for her situation, but that does not give her right to free classes or easier classes
Agreed. The request for a free class is a bit ridiculous.
I think the point is that she failed and therefore wasted $1200 tuition because she was not given the accommodation (apparently an extra week to complete the final) that she both anticipated and is legally owed by title IX.
NJ Hoya says
There is nothing to indicate she anticipated an extension. It seems that she requested the extension *after grades were submitted (ie after she got an F which may or may not have been entirely due to a missed final paper), which is something entirely different than requesting extra time before. Accommodation to mitigate stress ex ante is entirely different than special treatment to undo failure ex post. She had already taken several leaves, was suspended/on academic probation due to a GPA below 2.0–recall it was not just this 1 class that led to her dismissal, but apparently her entire record–, and was clearly aware of the danger of dismissal. She was warned by her Dean, and it is clearly stated in Georgetown’s policy.
Further, every Georgetown student knows and it is clearly stated in policy that the University does not give refunds after a certain period. The assertion that Georgetown should give students a refund *after grades are given* (for Fs or any grade) is absurdly entitled and unfair.
NJ Hoya- if you are a § 3 law student (which I suspect that you are because this was shared on our group and you’re using § 3 terminology), make your name known so I can put a face to these horrible, insensitive comments.
The thing is, Summer Classes are WAY more expansive than those in the academic year since a lot of the time financial Aid will not apply to summer courses. Also the fact that the university refused to work with her by giving her a small one week extension that her professor agreed with since he petitioned to change her grade to a passing one, therefore wasting her money.
Split Feelings says
Summer classes being way more expensive than regular year courses is irrelevant. If she wanted to save that money, enrolling in summer classes with the full knowledge of the cost was NOT the way to go.
A one week extension is not a small extension under any circumstances, but especially not during the summer, where her course lasted all of 4 weeks. That’s as if you went into the regular school year and asked for a “small extension” of a month.
Sarah Rabon says
Willa and Zoe, thank you so much for writing this.
It’s pretty clear that Willa is incredible person that has made our campus community a better place for her being here, so it breaks my heart to see the lengths Georgetown has gone to in an attempt to push her out of it.
Willa and all other survivors have the same right to a Georgetown education and campus spaces as any other Hoya. It is so incredibly frustrating to see survivors denied these rights, especially as the lives of their perpetrators go by relatively uninterrupted.
Eli Shekelberg says
Native American and mixed-race POCs are raped at much higher rates than privileged white girls. She should be ashamed of herself for diverting attention from those who are more oppressed.
Zoe Dobkin says
As written stated in the article:
“As a condition of publishing this piece, Willa wanted to make clear that she only speaks for herself and for her experience; however, if she — a white, upper-middle class, straight, cisgender, able-bodied female, with a tremendously supportive family — had this difficult of a time of dealing with Georgetown and being a survivor on campus, there are probably people with much worse experiences than hers.”
Rwanda Deshawna says
You should be ashamed that you did not think to include a POC’s opinion in the actual article. You let Willa acknowledge her privilege, but take no steps to address the shortcomings inherent in having an article written about rape without allowing POC to add their voice their concerns that the story portrays an elitest and white-centric view of rape.
Your white privilege is so apparent that it hurts. You need to take a long hard look at whether you are an ally of social justice or not, because we don’t need more stories from straight cisgendered white females. Unless you are directly addressing the problems that minorities face with rape, and white women (like yourselves)’s complicity in the problem.
You need to listen to voices that are NOT represented in this debate. And take a step DOWN. And stop OPPRESSING US by claiming you represent us. The only way we are going do dismantle the white patriarchal system is with POC sisters leading the way.
While inclusion is so obviously important in addressing this problem, and while POC have been unjustly left out of these conversations, I think it’s horrible to tell a survivor that her story isn’t worth sharing because it doesn’t add enough to the narrative. This article was one example of how Georgetown handles rape accusations. it doesn’t purport to be the only story; it’s an example. We don’t know how Zoe and Willa came to decide to share this story, but these stories are hard to share- it would make sense of not a lot of people came forward to talk about it. I understand wanting another perspective and I acknowledge the role privilege often plays in media coverage, but how dare you try to shame someone by telling them that their trauma isn’t important? Isn’t that what media implicitly does? Why would you choose to perpetuate that?
A person of color says
Are you serious? I have a hard time believing this is not a troll.
POC Stands with Willa says
I don’t believe this article ever attempted to represent the experience of POC, who also have been assaulted. In fact, the article goes out of its way to establish her privilege before divulging into the terrible treatment she received from Georgetown. Did you ever think that they shared Willa’s story because she came forward with it? Did you want the Hoya to advertise on its page for a POC sexual assault victim to tell their story? You can’t create a story with a POC without one coming forward. Hopefully the bravery demonstrated by Willa and Hoya will lead to a POC student coming forward, but please think about what you are saying before you contribute your negative comments.
Rhobert Jackson says
But she is taking the attention from our brothers and sisters by doing this. White people need to understand the world doesn’t revolve around them and thier problems.
PoC are raped much more often, and most of us aren’t privileged enough to even get to go to college!
This article is nothing but white sympathy bait
But really says
“This article is nothing but white sympathy bait.” Ummm no this article is “nothing but” a story of a woman who was raped and subsequently kicked to the curb. Good lord.
The crazies says
It is insane that you would seek to discredit someone’s story based on their skin color. People can write stories about white people without having to include information on colored people and vice versa.
the crazies are all one troll changing his name
As an actual person of color and not a troll, I agree that this is just one example of a rape. It’s not meant to discredit rape with POC or gain any sympathy for whites or white entitlement. She has a right to speak about her story if she wishes and stated that she only speaks for herself and not for any other victim of rape. Rather than having an informed discussion on this matter, we are attacking each other and leading to very little progress to ending rape culture in any way for anyone.
You should you ashamed of denying anyone the right to speak up and voice the value of her experience, their individuality. One person’s suffering does not become discredited or less important because others are suffering too; in fact, this is the mentality that leads to stereotypes and bigotry.
Shea Diaz says
Again, the same troll: https://funnyjunk.com/Eli+shekelberg/funny-pictures/5604421/
This is fucking ridiculous. This story is not about blacks or Hispanics and nor should it be. This story is not about race; it is about a student who claims to have been raped and for no reason should her race matter. And then to say “shame on you” because your white and others have it worse is a disgusting insult upon injury. Eli Shekelburg, you must be an internet troll, or God have mercy on your soul.
Masquetta Man says
I too think its obvious Eli was trolling. Hotheads should weigh their words before jumping into debates like this. You cant bring friends with you and just stifle discussion of a sensitive topic. Shea, you’ve got a lot of loyalty to this story from reading your comments. But at least you can talk. Can you tell me about the masked man? (I mean do you know the identity of the perpetrator of this awful rape,) it would be wrong to jump to conclusions before we know that, because it wouldn’t fly so good in the court of law. As readers we are here to judge and weigh both sides of the story, so we are here to find out what she told you, and what the man says as well. This process can be extremely painful for anybody. It doesn’t matter who we are, what matters is the plan we take going forward. Should we reasonably discuss this or should we just let the fire rise? Now is not the time for panic, but for reasoned debate. I personally believe that it is unforgivable when we have to ask young ladies, “do you feel in charge, of your own body?” We need to change that. And we have to remember that theatricality and deception are powerful agents that trolls use when they try to crash discussions about survivors or other victims stories.
Willa and Zoe, I applaud you for writing this. I’m sure it must have been emotionally taxing and time consuming– it was brave of you to even write these words, never mind posting it online.
It’s disappointing to me that there have been so many negative comments on this article. Rape is not an easy issue. How to take care of traumatized students is not an easy issue. The easiness of the issue doesn’t matter, though– the good fights are the hard fights. I am proud of you for sharing your story and thoughts. Please don’t worry about what those other people are saying– what’s important is your journey to heal. If Georgetown is what’s going to make you heal, keep appealing. If suing them will feel like justice, bring this place to its knees. (I vote for this option, but, you know…)
Take care of yourselves. Shame on every commenter or reader who doubts Willa’s story, journey or choices. That’s not how you ease the pain of a trauma.
Sarah Noseburg says
I know the pain and anguish this poor girl must be feeling. I personally was stare raped by this vile pig that was staring at my low cut top. I must of tried everything to get him arrested but sometimes the law just isn’t strict enough against straight white males. It’s time the law changes to protect women from all kinds of rape. Other peoples rights must end where my feelings begin.
Shea Diaz says
^^Above comment clearly a fake troll, as several of these other comments if you look at the names. I’m praying for you that you can learn to love and accept yourself. Praying that you find a way to live in joy and not in hate.
Sir LongHog says
A “survivor”? Really? not a proper term.
Morgan Birck says
The proper term is whatever a person self-identifies as, and as this is co-written, I believe survivor is then the proper term for Willa
Damascus Jones says
Willa and Zoe, I am nothing if not united with you in the struggle to take down the corrupt and wicked system of white male supremacy.
But at the same time I am concerned that the article neglects the core issue of power+privilege that feeds the social injustices we see today. What I mean by that is, when you use a white face to trivialize the struggles the POC community goes through, you also succeed in stifling the voice of the POC community.
Another commenter summed it up nicely, but I am more than a little upset that our voices fall on deaf ears once again because of a privileged mouthpiece.
Hoya '15 says
So confused why people find it necessary to troll.
Take your trolling elsewhere– you’re not very good at disguising yourself.
I think this article is missing something–namely, the input or point of view from someone from the University involved in this case. As we all remember, this was one of the fatal procedural flaws in the Rolling Stones article last winter. Also, if no true investigation into the alleged perpetrator’s actions were conducted (“committees” are mentioned in the piece, but I understood these to be related toward securing accommodations), then the University should not be providing accommodations, since that would be prejudging the situation. And, as another commentator mentioned above, if an investigation has been conducted, the University’s behavior is consistent with having determined the claim to be without merit.
Title IX requires schools to provide accommodations regardless of whether or not someone chooses to go through grievance procedures and even if someone does go through but the accused student is found non-responsible. This is a good thing, as college boards and law enforcement have been shown to be woefully inadequate at handling rape cases. To hold someone’s education hostage because they cannot access accommodations that they are legally entitled to because they did not go through the arduous process of trying to get another student disciplined, would violate their civil rights. For more information, see the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter:
Hoya '15 says
Absolutely a legit concern, but I’m sure there will be news reporting on this coming forth. This was likely an opinion piece for this reason.
But what accommodations are relevant here? Do accommodations include free classes? Ignoring the advice of her Dean? A GPA above 2.0? A successful request for a deadline extension after grades were already submitted?
Emily Perkins says
This is an opinion piece submitted by someone who does not work for The Hoya. It does not claim to objectively represent all points of view (in fact, the authors acknowledge this shortcoming and encourage others to share their stories); it only shares one awful story that is not made less traumatic for the individual who experienced it because she was privileged in a number of ways.
Absolutely, people who do not experience these various privileges have awful stories to tell, and more of them, and with even fewer institutional and personal supports. But I think this is a brave article because it shares a very personal story and starts a very important conversation. It isn’t trying to be the only voice in that conversation. As someone who was raped her senior year at Georgetown, with weeks to go until my and my rapist’s graduation, I wish I had been strong enough to turn my trauma into a call for institutional reform. Even now, more than a year later and in such a small forum, it makes me uncomfortable to write this publicly for fear of personal and professional repercussions.
As Zoe and Willa have repeatedly said, I hope that people reading this story will realize the need for Georgetown (and other institutions around the world) to change their policies, AND that other survivors with a variety of backgrounds and experiences will feel safe in coming forward to share their stories. It makes me sad that the comments on this story might present yet another reason why people might not feel safe at Georgetown. If anyone reading this is struggling with their own experiences or has questions about my experiences or opinions, please feel free to Facebook message me to discuss further.
If Willa’s account of her dealings with DPS is accurate, that should be fixed. We need a university that is safe for survivors of sexual assault.
However, before we all cry “injustice” at Willa’s dismissal, we should have all the facts and get the full story. Something about Willa’s account does not add up. Does anyone really believe, as Willa claims, that the “university justified expelling Willa based on that F grade” alone? That “physics professor, a computer science professor, and a college dean she had never met” expelled her because of 2 bad grades? It seems implausible. What were her other grades like? What about her grades before the sexual assault?
Instead, the evidence seems to strongly suggest that Willa is academically unfit for Georgetown.
Facts she disclosed: She entered Georgetown Fall 2012. She was raped Spring 2013. She got a D in a Women’s and Gender Studies class. She took classes Spring 2013. Unclear what happened Fall of 2013. Left for medical reasons Spring 2014 (back to that in a moment). Withdrew again Fall 2014. Took no classes in Spring 2015. Then *against the prescient recommendation of her Dean* she returned to Georgetown in Summer 2015 and got an F.
In her account of her interactions with DPS, Willa also discloses that she was “suspended” in January 2014. What happened to “medical leave” in January 2014? If it is the case, which seems like it is, that Willa was suspended in January 2014, according to Georgetown’s website:
“students may be suspended or dismissed if their cumulative grade point averages fall below the following levels at the end of the academic year:
First-year students: 1.20
Just as a matter of statistics, this strongly suggests that in the 4+ semesters of taking classes, Willa’s grades were overwhelmingly (if not exclusively) Cs and Ds (and perhaps a few Fs).
This leads to the question: At what point is she responsible for her academic performance and is Georgetown responsible for academic standards?
While she “knows pop culture like the back of her hand and can quote verbatim skits from ‘Key and Peel’ and ‘Kroll Show,’ …has an encyclopedia of reaction gifs[,] can show you every YouTube video you never knew you had to see…’to get pumped up’ for a night out with friends,” she did not do her school work. Willa might be “passionate,” but it seems very likely that that last Ethics paper was not the only one she did not turn it.
Once you get past all the fluffy language about “justice,” the main story here does not seem to be about sexual assault. It reads like one long appeal letter. It is a distraction, and I believe it does a disservice to other survivors. The Hoya should be pretty embarrassed for not vetting this story or simply editing it to narrow its focus on her difficulty reporting sexual assault to DPS.
Your assessment is most likely correct. Most people who are raped rightly decide to pursue criminal justice with law enforcement authorities. They are the most capable of handling crimes, gathering evidence, and eventually concluding fairly in a process that can determine truth and falsity, and innocence and guilt.
Conversely, as we have seen with the Rolling Stone debacle and the absolutely insane saga of Ms. Emma Sulkowicz, the campus rape trope is usually employed as leverage in a campaign for some other kind of justice. Typically it is about personal or “academic justice,” or by one admission, furthering a narrative with a larger truth by means of a lesser lie. It is never about punishing the perpetrator, but about winning some concession for the victim.
It is part of a larger trend we are seeing in this country where victimhood is the capital resource for social power plays; e.g., because I was victimized this way, I have a better claim to this political right or this consideration. Just look at Eli’s sarcastic comments: here he is trolling, but he is mocking a very real phenomenon which is plaguing many “underdog” movements. The fact that some took him seriously show how far this poisonous mindset has seeped into our culture, and this article is really an excellent primary source demonstrating it.
Assualt Advocate says
Actually, based on statistics from the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAIN). Significantly less than half of rape victims actually report abuse, so the claim that most “actual” victims do is factually incorrect. Also, the idea that people who are “actually raped”, report it is equally preposterous. Reporting to the police, and thus initiating charges is something that some victims don’t want to do, as they don’t want to relive their assault in court and have to face their abuser. Reporting to an university allows for accommodations to help the student deal with their abuse. As a Georgetown alum, I would have presumed that you would be better educated and on the subjects that you speak on.
“Just look at Eli’s sarcastic comments: here he is trolling, but he is mocking a very real phenomenon which is plaguing many “underdog” movements. The fact that some took him seriously show how far this poisonous mindset has seeped into our culture . . .” When I read this, I had the exact same reaction.
One of the better comments on this thread. When I read this article I had the same questions.
But really says
If a person comes forward to tell you that she was RAPED, that the University did NOTHING to help her, and that she was subsequently KICKED OUT OF SCHOOL and you decide that because she is white she should not have told her story, you are out of your damn mind.
Nicky Jim says
Why didn’t she have a rape kit conducted to catch this rapist, presuming he exists? Why didn’t she take a medical leave of absence instead of trying to struggle through classes? What were Willa’s grades before her assault occurred, presuming it occurred? Why has she declined to name her attacker, presuming he exists?
Do you really expect me or anyone else to take this seriously?
Post-Rolling Stone fiasco, an article as poorly researched and shoddily assembled as this one hardly qualifies as a piece of journalism. Amusing to see The Hoya try to hop onto the “rape-culture” train, especially so late in the game.
Nice try, kids. Bogus article.
You’re claiming that because she didn’t try to prosecute she’s lying? I was raped my sophomore year at Georgetown and went to the Washington Hospital Center specifically to get a rape kit, (which has a great program for survivors and includes free STD prevention services, forensic rape kits, etc) but was struggling to decide whether or not to go to the police or school exactly because of the points brought up in this article. After 30 days they discard the kit, and in those 30 days I was unable to make such a difficult decision.
Do you actually expect her to name her attacker in an article on the Hoya? I can’t even tell if you’re trolling or just have very poor judgment.
I’ve also taken a medical leave before and it’s a not an easy process. It’s impossible to know how you’re going to deal with the new stresses of school and potentially seeing your attacker.
Nicky Jim says
Seeing as this is a purported journalistic article, yes, I would expect interviews with the alleged attacker (not to mention the school, the principle subject that this article is attacking).
I know you guys think that sexual assault is some sacred realm, too special and sensitive for the rules of journalism and justice, but it is not. For stories like this to be taken seriously, reporters and alleged victims must pursue the same channels as anybody else.
Emma Hamstra says
Rap kits are an incredibly traumatizing event for survivors of sexual assault. Many survivors do not want to go through with the physical and emotional invasions that are part of the exam. Survivors are asked to repeatedly tell their stories to various doctors, police detectives, and nurses during a rape kit. Many survivors are in shock or denial after their attack and are not yet ready to tell their stories. And who is to say the rape kit will actually be tested? There are thousands of rape kits across the country that have never been tested and are just stored in police warehouses. In D.C. finding a hospital that has an on call SANE nurse is pretty much like finding the Holy Grail. Rape kits are also pretty much useless if a survivor has showered, brushed their teeth, or thrown out their clothes. It seems pretty logical to me that a survivor would want to purge away feelings of their rapist. I imagine this would consist of dozens of showers and still the inability to feel clean. Rape kits are a great tool. But they are sadly screwed up and forgotten about. To question why a survivor did not get a rape kit done, shows very little empathy on your part. It also shows your complete ignorance towards what actually occurs during a rape kit. Let me tell you it is nothing like a simple yearly physical.
Nicky Jim says
If the victim doesn’t want to undergo the rape kit, that’s cool. It’s also absolutely cool with his/her rapist, who will never be prosecuted or face any consequences due to a complete lack of physical evidence.
I can understand what you’re trying to say. The fact remains that no matter how uncomfortable or traumatizing the process might be, if the victim declines to get a test, the rapist is going to get away with it. Pure and simple. There is absolutely nothing logical about “purging away feelings of their rapist,” in fact, I would say that the notion is highly illogical unless you think you can somehow forget that the rape happened (which I’m pretty sure you can’t).
There is only one logical process here. Get a test, catch your rapist. Don’t get a test, don’t catch your rapist. Everything else is irrational sentiment that can only lead to further trauma and a vile criminal getting away with a vile crime.
Nicky Jim says
This comment section gets an A+, by the way, for intelligent and well thought-out trolling.
…everyone knows you doing all of the trolling yourself under different names. #sociopath
Nicky Jim says
Whatever you say, Mr. Shea #socioeconomics #sociocracy
Adriana Zin says
Thank you for being so bravely sharing your story, Willa. This is an excellent example of why constant agitation is needed to create a survivor centric campus. This shouldn’t be anything that anyone has to go through, and your perseverance through these circumstances is so admirable. Your ability advocate for yourself and others, and the fortitude with which you do it, makes you a true Hoya.
Not sure says
It’s horrifying she was raped. Anyone who makes light of that is out of their mind.
That said, this piece seems fluffy and one-sided. There’s no perspective from the university. There are few facts. What facts there are don’t reflect terribly poorly on the university (aside from the assertions about DPS, which I’ll take as fact, and which do reflect poorly on those individuals).
A request for free classes? The university paying for accommodation? Ignoring a dean’s advice, and then condemning the university when the dean is right? These don’t seem like reasonable positions to me.
Regardless, I hope nothing but the best for Willa. May her determination enable her to succeed.
Hoya '15 says
You know, if you wanted to troll effectively, doing it once is enough. Making multiple posts under multiple names is a strange and ineffective amount of effort on your part.
Thomas Jefferson says
“In the spring of 2013, Willa Murphy was violently raped by a fellow Georgetown student. It was such a traumatic experience that it took over a year after her rape before she was able to tell anyone, not uncommon for survivors.”
If you fail to go to the police for an entire year after an alleged crime took place, you lose the social and likely legal right to complain. (statute of limitations).
Take your cultural marxism elsewhere.
Actually, the statute of limitations for rape in DC is between 3 – 15 years, depending on the facts of the case. Legally, she still has the right to make her case and get charges drawn against her attacker. Even though she didn’t come forward about her story for a year, she is still entitled to the same fair treatment as a survivor who came forward right after the attack.
Then maybe she should do that? To the police? Free classes, readmission, and academic sanctions on a rapist isn’t justice.
Assualt Advocate says
Forcing a rape victim to relive their rape in a trial, where they are forced to be in front of their attacker, is a disgusting way to treat someone who has been through a traumatic experience. Especially if that person did not go for a rape kit admittedly after, because their is little evidence to convict under usually at that point, and it would only serve as another traumatic experience for the victim, who may not be able to mentally handle the situation.
Thank you Willa and Zoe. This is exactly why it’s so hard to speak up. The University tells us to speak up and ask for help, and your story reminds us that they need to do more than just tell the survivor to speak up.
I completely agree anonymous hoya.
I personally had a terrible experience and struggled to come forward. When I did, I was basically laughed at by the administration and no help was offered. While it is triggering to even talk about the events that occurred, I already have come a long way in overcoming the trauma. I was having sex with two males while on molly, and it was only the next day that I realized that I was raped. After they left, I saw them start high fiving and bragging to their friends. I realized that I was being objectified as some kind of sexual object. Not as a person with feelings and emotions, but as some sort of piece of meat. I realized that I needed feminism to deal with this trying time of my life, and I am forever thankful to my gender studies professors to explaining to me the problems of the white patriarchal system that we live in. While both the males were black, I realize now that they didn’t understand what they were doing, and were victims as well of the same system I was. I apologize if this story was too triggering or too graphic, but I feel that my experience needs to be shared, so other hoyas know that they are not alone. I have always been and will always be a proud hoya, but we need to make some changes on campus. There have been too many victims already.
I wonder if this post by LadyHoya is a disingenuous attempt to de-legitimize progressive thought on this subject. (If it is not, then I hope you are still seeking counseling and getting perspectives from different people.)
Your African-American rapists “did not know what they were doing”? (isn’t that racist?) and it is the white patriarchical system that caused them to rape you?
You bring up an interesting point, however: can consentual sex become rape retroactively if there are too many high-fives the next day?
I also stand with survivors says
Thank you for sharing this story and for shedding light on the inhumanity of this poorly run bureaucracy.
John Wang says
Before we all go on this Georgetown witch-hunt and declare a state of emergency, we all must realize that this article is ONLY 1 SIDE OF THE STORY – and a heavily biased story at that. If this is indeed what happened then it is a travesty, but I caution others from denouncing the university before an official, comprehensive investigation is conducted.
Don’t believe everything you read! Good journalism is showing BOTH SIDES OF THE STORY AND LETTING THE READER DECIDE, NOT presenting a emotional, overly sensational, one-sided depiction of a situation. Honestly, the way this article is written, it belongs in a 2-bit tabloid.
Fart Face says
Do you one better. One-bit tabloid.
Assualt Advocate says
It’s been a week, yet Georgetown has yet to issue an official response regarding these allegations, maybe Georgetown should take the initiative to give their side of the story, because I highly doubt they’d be eager to talk to a school newspaper.
'11 Alumna says
In 2004, Georgetown was found guilty by the Department of Education of having violated sexual assault victim’s rights when it demanded that they sign a confidentiality agreement -to not disclose the outcome of disciplinary process against their rapist – in order to receive the outcome of the disciplinary hearing.
Georgetown had the same president then that it has now btw. It would be hard to imagine an administration that had such a cruel policy once would radically change to become a supportive of survivors. The only high level administrator who seemed engaged in supporting survivors at all when I was a Hoya was Former Senior Vice President Dan Porterfield and he moved on to become President of another college.
'11 Alumna says
The Hoya wrote about the administration’s previous shameful treatment of survivors: https://www.thehoya.com/disclosure-struck-by-federal-review/
And the Voice has written a few accounts over the years about Hoyas who were sexual assault survivors often and more recently how the University is dealing with the issue. It’s making some progress in educating and providing resources but it seems more concerned with PR and its reputation than focusing on helping survivors IMO:
From 2010: https://georgetownvoice.com/2010/09/16/surviving-the-reality-of-sexual-assault/
From last year: https://georgetownvoice.com/2014/03/20/shadows-confronting-sexual-assault-georgetown/
Barry Teller says
Just because Will says she has been raped does not make her a survivor. We know nothing of what happened, The UVA rape story was bogus. Emily Sulkowicz claimed all year she was raped and then had filmed herself getting anal from a stranger to prove what? NYPD and Columbia rejected her rape claims. Truly, Willa should get counseling then go to DC Police- This is not a GU issue.
If she is lying about being raped, then there must be a reason she is lying. Something must have happened. No one writes such a heavy article for no reason. Also, a video of anal sex does not invalidate a rape (that’s slut shaming). Can you even imagine how hard and stigmatized it is to be “the girl who cries rape?” Regardless of truth, the Georgetown community needs to support Willa.
“This is not a GU issue.”
Maybe you should spend some time with Title IX, buddy. It’s absolutely a GU issue.
Dawn Kipunj says
As a woman who has been raped several times by my husband, I understand the pain Willa is feeling. The regret that you feel after being raped is the worse thing that a person can suffer through. Stay strong girls.
As a linguistic quip, “which it increasingly appears like that will happen despite appeals” is the most awkward sounding subordinate phrase ever. I’d have said “which appears increasingly likely to happen despite appeals.” I wonder how differently male survivors of sexual assault at Georgetown are treated – especially if they are or are perceived to be gay. I’m a male survivor of sexual assault, but it happened long before my time at Georgetown and had no interaction with Georgetown’s admin regarding this. Might be worth it to conduct a comparative study and see what other systemic biases might be plaguing the system.
I don’t think Georgetown realizes its PR will improve when and only when it recognizes the problem for what it is and takes actual, compassionate steps toward fixing it.
Ann Uhvahshoah says
No lawyer? No witnesses? What sort of due process is this?
Anonymous Gtown Student says
I have to be honest. I am neither a supporter of the feminist movement nor am I active in educating myself about what is today called “rape culture.” Obviously I hear stories similar to this in the news, online, through word of mouth etc… I would say I know about as much about sexual assault and rape culture as the average Georgetown student.
I don’t think Willa’s choice to wait as long as she did to report her incident should be considered grounds to discredit what happened to her. However, highly publicized sexual assault and rape cases over the last 2 years, such as the UVA and Jameis Winston cases, have clouded the air surrounding cases such as Willa’s. With that being said, I think it’s understandable that some people who are far removed from Willa and this case are skeptical about the legitimacy of her case. But skepticism is no reason to hide behind your computer screen and berate Willa for “lying” or “fabricating” a rape.
The point of this article was not to chastise Willa for the way in which she handled her situation but rather to shed light upon the faulty support system that Georgetown provides it’s students. I am currently an athlete here at Georgetown, and in my life I have had seven diagnosed concussions. Two falls ago I was advised by a neurosurgeon to seek part-time enrollment at Georgetown (take 3 classes as opposed to 4 or 5). Despite medical documentation delineating the health risks of over stimulating my brain so soon after a seventh concussion, Georgetown threatened to suspend me should I choose to only take three classes.
The point here is that Georgetown is tremendously inadequate when it comes to fulfilling students needs. Whether Willa’s case is legitimate or not does not matter in the context of this article. If the author wanted to write about frequency and legitimacy of rape cases, then she would have written about them; but she didn’t. She wrote about a flawed system that exists at this school.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But if you’re going to comment on an article as heavy as one such as this, make sure your comment reflects the meat of the article and not some corollary point that you think might stir argument.
Hoya '16 says
Brilliantly said. The sad thing about this issue is that it is so divisive, complicated, and emotionally charged that people often fail to maintain any sort of objectivity. The story of Willa’s rape — tragic if true (which I see no reason not to believe; this wouldn’t be the forum for proof and I think the fact that people expect it from an opinion piece is a little ridiculous) — is not the main player here. Rather, this story addresses the very real flaws that this University and its policies have with regard to mental health issues. I have come to know these issues well through friends and as a proud Hoya, I readily admit that Georgetown’s dealings in these regards are shameful. Georgetown propagates a sink or swim, high stress environment unlike any other place I’ve experienced. While we should never sacrifice our academic standards — some valid points were brought up earlier about Willa’s grades — this place can be very hard on people that aren’t the stereotypical over committed but still perfect 3.5+ student.
This article isn’t about rape; it uses a tragic story to describe the dearth of resources available at a university that claims (and generally successfully) creates men and women for others.
This quote: “Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But if you’re going to comment on an article as heavy as one such as this, make sure your comment reflects the meat of the article and not some corollary point that you think might stir argument” is the most insightful comment yet on this thread.
Jake D says
Again and again we see Universities and other institutions trying to perpetuate a culture of victim-blaming (or at least denial) as a means of averting “bad press.” It shocks and saddens me that we live in a society that would rather close its eyes to uncomfortable truths than work to enact real change– and that such hallowed institutions would be culpable in this sort of behavior. The time to act is now.
Well this turned into a disaster in no time at all: https://georgetownvoice.com/2015/08/19/an-open-letter-to-the-entire-georgetown-community/
General reminder that this is Georgetown’s mission statement:
“Georgetown is a Catholic and Jesuit, student-centered research university.
Established in 1789 in the spirit of the new republic, the university was founded on the principle that serious and sustained discourse among people of different faiths, cultures, and beliefs promotes intellectual, ethical and spiritual understanding. We embody this principle in the diversity of our students, faculty and staff, our commitment to justice and the common good, our intellectual openness and our international character.
An academic community dedicated to creating and communicating knowledge, Georgetown provides excellent undergraduate, graduate and professional education in the Jesuit tradition for the glory of God and the well-being of humankind.
Georgetown educates women and men to be reflective lifelong learners, to be responsible and active participants in civic life and to live generously in service to others.”
Isn’t that cute? Guess where my donation dollars are not going.
Leslie C says
I sheepishly admit this scam of of an institution is my alma mater. I worked very hard my entire young life, as many others did, to pursue my undergraduate career at this ridiculous self-serving corporation. There is little concern or support for students. The very night that three campus security officers presented at my dorm room due to a reported “weed-like” odor (an actual quote from the DPS report) there was a SHOOTING at a campus party. Well done Gtown, you clearly have your priorities in line. Will never donate a dime to this elitist university. You’re embarrassing.
Her story was so much like mine. I attend the university of Arkansas and their final decision was I wasn’t “intoxicated enough” for it to be rape. The school never had my back. Did nothing about the bullying and harassment. I had a class with him. These past few years have been the worst of my life. I was so excited to attend the school and at first they make it seem like they really care. I now hate the school and trust only 1 professor. I would love to expose them one day about what they did to me. #metoo