Friday, November 21, 2014

For Dear Old UVa

My alma mater has been much in the news lately, and it's been very dark, polarizing, angry, ugly stuff.  It hurts me, much as it may be hurting my classmates and schoolmates, my fellow alumna with whom I shared classes, meals, dorms, 90210/Melrose viewing parties, coffee houses, etc...with, to think that our administration was so blinded by reputational concerns as to cover over these horrible crimes and alleged crimes.  That's what rape is.  It's a crime, punishable by law.  In fact, it's a felony (Class 4) in Virginia.

It will be an ugly and long road ahead, and heads are being called for.  I am not calling for heads.  I just needed to make sure you know something.  To all of my UVA friends (to all my friends everywhere, really) - if I had ever known that someone touched you or violated you in a way uninvited, I would NEVER, EVER have put your "reputation" or mine over your human dignity.  The fact that anyone, ANY HUMAN, would debate whether going to the hospital to report a crime and catalog the injuries sustained based on the argument of "it will ruin your reputation here" is abhorrent.  I find that argument disgusting and morally depraved.  I find it to be unworthy.

I love my sons, and when they were each born I teased Lee that I had it easy because I never had to have the sex talk.  Now I see how hard I will have it - raising them to be strong and smart and kind and generous.  I need to find a way to subtly show them, time and again, that every time they hear the word no, the only thing that they can possibly do is to STOP.  Stop throwing Legos at your brother.  Stop eating like a animal.  Stop poking me while we sit and watch TV.  In learning to stop, they will learn to think about why what they are doing is wrong or annoying.  Hopefully, by the time they are men, they will think the whole way through.

They will go to college one day (hopefully) and I need to know that I have sent them out as emissaries of goodness.  Lee and I need to know that we have raised good men.

1 comment:

Slar said...

If I may, the operative word is "yes", not "no". Romantic and sexual relations need to be an opt-in activity, not an opt-out one. The alternate message is that if no one says "no" then it must be okay. When kids get to college, no one is there to tell them no.

As to your other point, I believe heads do need to roll. The status quo is unacceptable but yet it has persisted in dark corners of UVA for long before we enrolled and it doesn't seem to have improved measurably since we left. College administrators are expendable. If the current ones aren't willing or able to do improve things, we can find someone who will. This problem is solvable but it requires leadership. UVA is exactly the right kind of place to provide that leadership. What it is missing is the right leader.