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  • The Griffin

“It’s not all men”... but it’s some of them

By: Natalie Faas, Assistant News Editor

When cases of sexual violence come about, it’s heartbreaking to hear victims sharing their experiences. It is a very brave thing to do, and it takes quite a bit of courage to tell your story — especially when the subject is as intimate as sexual violence.

This past week, Canisius College became the center for a troubling lawsuit in which three past members of the Canisius College cross country/track and field team alleged sexual assault as well as discrimination. When this was released, the campus community waited patiently for Canisius administration to release a statement. They quickly did; however, as it was pushed out to the community, many found the contents incredibly disappointing.

The College decried all of the claims as “baseless” and offered no support to the victims sharing their stories. I was beyond disappointed to see this. In a delicate situation such as this one, I personally think it would've been in the College’s best interest not to comment and instead let the legal team handle it. Instead, they played the blame game and — in my eyes — completely invalidated the victims’ experiences.

The outrage and disappointment that poured out from the community was intense and almost exciting to see. If enough people make noise and show their disappointment, maybe something might change.

There are previous students on social media who are also supporting the College and saying that the claims are baseless. It is frustrating that these people, just because they had a good experience, think it is appropriate to completely invalidate somebody else’s experiences.

I have always raved about how safe I feel here at Canisius. I unfortunately already knew that sexual assault and harrassment happened on most college campuses, but it was shocking when it became clear that it was happening on mine as well: on the campus I love so much and rave about to all of my friends and family back home.

This situation was emotionally exhausting. As the assistant news editor on The Griffin, I never really share my opinion, just report the news. I didn’t realize how badly I wanted to throw my own opinions and disappointment into my stories last week. To stand up for these victims who I have never even known.

Every time an administrator refused to comment on the lawsuit, I felt it as an attack. They wanted to issue this statement while hiding behind the Jesuit values, and then try and wait it out in a bunker. Little has been done to remedy the situation on the College’s side and I find that sad.

The alleged abuser was not only barely reprimanded for what he had done when he was here, he also still lives around campus. This is incredibly concerning for a multitude of reasons. The fact that “smoking a girl up” was and possibly is a common phrase among male runners is even more concerning, because it could very well be tied to more instances of sexual violence.

It is sad because the administration had a great opportunity to show the campus that they are committed to our safety and to make sure that we feel heard. They did — and continue to do — quite the opposite.

I was nervous to write this piece. As a contributor to The Griffin, a tour guide and an orientation leader this coming summer, I am a representative of the College and I didn’t want it to hurt any of the opportunities that may lay ahead for me. However, I did feel it was necessary to share my thoughts that I know many others share.

The unfortunate truth to this situation is that it will eventually lose momentum — administration is banking on it. People will slowly forget about it and move on. Administrators will go back to the same “We are men and women for and with others” attitude that they have always used. However, we have all seen that that is definitely not the case.

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