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Ball State University’s recent spike in the reports of sexual assaults around campus pose two different reactions: fear and pride. You may be wondering why the President of Feminists for Action is prideful in these recent events, and I am here to tell you why:

Pride, by definition is the idea of delight or elation arising from some act, possession, or relationship. I am proud that the survivors of these events have found their voices and have come forward, holding their perpetrator accountable. I am filled with pride at the fact that the university has taken the time to be as transparent as it can with these accusations. I am overjoyed at the fact that these survivors knew their resources on campus and are using them to their full advantage. I am proud that they have reported, and hopefully, are getting the justice they deserve.

READ MORE: A Letter to President Mearns

On the flip side, I am fearful. I am fearful of a broken criminal justice system that has time and time again held the perpetrator’s quality of life on a higher standard than that of the survivors. I am fearful that although the university is, for now, being transparent, the names of these survivors could come out and thus will ensue a myriad of hateful comments about ruining the lives of their perpetrators, their choice in clothing, and if they had been intoxicated. I am extremely fearful that these events will keep happening, but instead of suspending the organizations that have had these accusations brought against them, they will go on, living their lives as if nothing had happened. 

Although those two emotions are heavy on my heart, at the end of it all, I am hopeful: hopeful that these survivors are getting the support they need, hopeful that justice will be served not only to the perpetrators, but to the organizations it has surrounded, and I am hopeful that although the number of sexual assaults may be the same, more survivors are willing to step forward and report. 

Although these fears appear to be surface level, it also comes from a fear of the current political climate. Betsy DeVos has chosen, as Secretary of Education, to rescind Title IX, an informative piece of legislation that will protect these survivors. Without Title IX, what happens to these survivors? What happens to the idea that they are protected by the University? What happens to the idea that we’re a just society? Ball State University must stand with the survivors and the student body to show that we are united and that Title IX is a vital piece of our university. These survivors deserve protection by the University, and deserve to feel safe in the place they have called home away from home.

— Shelby Leveritt, senior social work and women's and gender studies major