For me, though, CMC is a both a cocoon and a prison cell. It is simultaneously the home of my best friends, and the home of my rapist.
It’s weird typing that word, by the way. Largely because I’m a man. It’s weird writing this on my computer, to be honest, because society has told me that rape doesn’t happen to men. It happened to me, however, and I’m sure it has happened to other students on campus as well.
At a school that prides itself on openness, it shouldn’t seem like it needs to be said that rape is an equal opportunity crime – that people of any identity may targeted. And yet, the campus discussion at CMC only focuses on man-on-woman rape, a situation that is incredibly painful, but not entirely representative of the rapes that occur at the Claremont Colleges.
All students returning to CMC were asked to go through “sexual assault” training through the form of “Haven,” a Dean of Students sponsored sexual assault awareness course. The intention was good – a far cry from a CMC of yesteryear, where sexual assault was considered one of those problem that “other schools had.”
Haven, however, was nonsensically useless. Not only did it address rape and sexual assault solely as problems experienced by females, it was entirely blind to the fact that rape is an equal opportunity event – something that everyone potentially could be faced with.
Few things have cut me as deep as the college that I know and love caring so little about the situation of sexual assault at the Claremont Colleges. It pleases me to know that some situations are being avoided through a brief, online course (is the sarcasm too obvious?) that only refers to sexual assault as a male-on-female problem. This is probably the biggest issue I’ve had in the time that this has become a major problem – our resources are formatted towards women’s’ issues and women only.
It should be noted that I don’t begrudge CMC’s female and female-identifying community these resources. Rape is rape – and deserves attention and resources in order to prevent occurrences, or help victims recover.
Yet, only having services for women disenfranchises male rape victims, and makes us feel even less accepted at a college that prides itself on acceptance. Surely, we can do better.]]>
In some ways, I feel like I’m back in your situation this semester. I know the struggle—you’re starting a new year in a new place, your old friends have split up and spread out to colleges around the country, and it’s time for you to start over and build up a new group, a new community.
I’m starting my junior year at CMC, meaning I’m (terrifyingly) half done with my time here, but I feel for you—because while I know the campus, I know the professors, and I know the routine, I, too, am building a new support system this year. I’m spending my junior year planted firmly on campus, but like many of you will do two years from now, most of my best friends are studying abroad one or both semesters this year.
Just as your friends from home have spread out around the country, mine are spreading out around the world: Jordan, DC, Rwanda, Silicon Valley, Prague. Some of them will be back in January, and in their place, other friends on campus will leave for the spring. Some are gone now and won’t return until next September.
When I started writing this letter, I was 19; the next time we’re all back together, I’ll be celebrating my 21st.
And yes, despite that, I still have a network and a community here. There are truly awesome people I’ll be sharing this semester with, people I’ve had the pleasure to get to know over the last two years. But still, there are going to be some little things missing. It’s the people you waste hours at the Motley with when you swore you’d spend the time studying; the people you can (almost) always talk into a midnight In-n-Out run; the people who always make you late but are always worth waiting for—they’re the ones who suddenly aren’t going to be around.
And in that sense, this feeling is universal. Just as the new CMCers are missing this with your friends at home, the juniors are missing it with our friends abroad, and everyone is missing our friends in grown-up land who have graduated and moved on. A lot of things stay the same at CMC from year to year, but a lot changes, too.
What I’m trying to get at here is something I didn’t realize when I started out at CMC: the freshmen aren’t the odd ones out amidst everyone else who’s all settled in. The truth is, none of us are settled. This letter is for the freshmen, but more broadly, it’s for everyone. Starting over is universal. We’re all doing it. Whether you’re coming from high school, or coming off of an internship, or returning to CMC reeling at the newness of the always changing campus and student body—or, you know, moving to Rwanda for four months—this semester and this year are new. We’re all starting over again, separate but together.
So don’t feel so overwhelmed, freshmen—or at least, if you do, don’t feel alone in that feeling. We all have it. We’re all pushing through it. We’re all rebuilding. We did it our freshman year, and we’ll do it again—and so will you.]]>