Beyond TUJ’s Whisper Networks
Disclaimer: The use of he/she pronouns in this piece, are from the author’s personal experience. It is possible for them to be reversed/mixed/or non-gendered altogether.
It usually starts like this:
“Oh you know [insert name]? Be careful, he’s not a great guy.”
Often what follows is a wary smile or a furrow of the brows, but it’s the look of urgency in their eyes that gives it away; it’s the same look I’ve received many times over.
The message is loud and clear:
Stay away from him.
I want you to be safe. I know that he’s hurt someone before, and I don’t want him to do it again.
When I hear this, I keep the names tucked away in a box in the back of my mind and a bell goes off, every time I hear a name from the list I've compiled. If I see him, I steer clear. If I have a class with him, I sit as far away as possible. If he talks to me, I don’t ask any follow-up questions and keep the conversation to a minimum.
Although whisper networks are useful, they are institutionally illegitimate. It is a warning that sometimes, comes too late. However, I believe that its function has saved, protected, and prevented many from potentially harmful situations.
It’s better than nothing.
Reporting and going through the process of trying to get an abuser punished by the university for sexual misconduct, is a long, gruelling, and quite frankly, traumatic process. Trust me, I would know. So essentially, victims are forced to choose between endangering themselves by facing their abusers through the institution, or whisper networks.
At TUJ, if you want to hold another student accountable for sexual misconduct but do not wish to go through the process of trying to get him/her punished right away (pressing Code of Conduct), you can submit a sworn, notarized statement to the Office of Student Services describing in detail the harassment or assault you went through, for OSS to keep in its files. However, be aware that the statement will have your name attached to it. It will stay completely confidential and filed away in a cabinet; unless another student comes forward with a statement against the same perpetrator as well. In that case, you may be called in to tell your story, as the accused student would then be deemed a repeat offender, therefore, a threat to all student safety.
Repeat offenders will not be able to get away with their crimes and by you submitting a statement, you are able to help others who come forward.
As they say- the more people the more credibility, right?
With funding from the state of Pennsylvania through the “It’s On Us PA” campaign, the Student Government from main campus launched a new online reporting system for sexual misconduct in September. Now, using the link below, you can submit a statement straight to the Title IX coordinator at main campus (Andrea Seiss), and it will be held completely confidential unless another statement is submitted about the same student.
This can be done anonymously (unlike submitting a statement to OSS at TUJ), however as stated at the top of the page, “[anonymous reports] may limit the University’s ability to respond effectively because we will not be able to follow up [with the person who reported the incident(s)].”
PLEASE DO NOT ABUSE THIS.
This is not a joke. This is for safety. This is to protect other students as well as yourself. This is so that repeat offenders can be held accountable. Please take this seriously.
Send this link to your friend that told you about being assaulted by another student but didn’t want to come forward. Tell her that she does not have to attach her name to the statement if she does not want to. And most importantly, tell her that if she does this and the man who raped her does the same thing to somebody else again, he will be flagged down in some form or another, and it may help legitimize another student’s allegations against the same perpetrator.
This what I’m about to do right now.