I highly doubt she will ever read it, but in light of recent developments within the Department of Education of which she is the head, I was compelled to at least voice my outrage.
On February 16, 2003, while I was a senior at Grand Valley State University in Allendale Michigan, I was raped by a football player who I thought was my friend. Thinking of the other female students on the campus who might also fall prey to this perpetrator, I went immediately to the campus police and submitted to a rape kit that was almost as invasive as the actual rape itself. Keep in mind, I could have remained quiet and gone on about my educational business, but I felt it was my DUTY to remove a rapist from campus.
I mistakenly assumed that since I was the “good guy”, the pendulum of justice would swing rather quickly and in my favor. (I admit to being very naive). Unfortunately for me, this individual had helped GVSU secure a national championship that the school hadn’t seen in years, and it became obvious that school officials were more interested in keeping a possible pro athlete there than little old me. After all, I contributed nothing to the school–other than the fact that my parents paid my tuition and I was involved in numerous organizations that did, in fact, bring positive regard to the university.
The investigation was almost as humiliating as the rape itself, and I found myself being blamed for being victimized. What had I been wearing? What was the nature of the relationship between myself and the rapist prior to the incident? How many sexual partners had I had prior? The investigation was not to ascertain whether or not my complaint had merit. It was to solicit information that could be used to deny me justice.
In the end, the prosecutor used the answers to those very questions to decide not to take any legal action against my rapist. Seeing as though it was my senior year, and because I thought I was tough enough to handle the scrutiny, I refused to leave GVSU. I did everything I could–contacted the right people, kept the right documentation–only to have my rapist leave on his own accord. I was told that if he tried to re-enroll, I would be notified, and before he was allowed to return a judicial review would be held to determine his eligibility as a student.
Naive still, I believed them.
While preparing to attend summer courses, I was surprised to find that my entire course schedule had been dropped. In my four years of being a student, this had never happened. I re-registered, and the classes were mysteriously dropped again. When I demanded to know a reason, I was told the classes were dropped because no tuition payment had been received–which was garbage because no tuition bill had even been generated yet. EVEN STILL, my parents were happy to pay, and I re-registered for the classes AGAIN and went to buy my books.
As I was walking into the bookstore, I almost walked right into the guy who had raped me.. He was carrying a bag of books that he had obviously just purchased. It was safe to assume that my classes had been dropped on purpose, don’t you think?
Mrs. DeVos, do you think that was acceptable? Do you want rapists to have free roam on campuses? Do you want to prevent survivors of rape from coming forward? Do you realize or even care how much of a setback that was in my life? I had to leave GVSU during my senior year and basically start over at a new university, and I have racked up considerable student loan debt because of it (and you’re screwing with that too!). I can’t even begin to list the psychological ramifications that come along with being a victim but not being looked at or treated like a victim.
With that being said, you are the head of the Department of Education, and since being sworn in you have taken some abhorrent steps in your position. I am absolutely appalled at some of your proposals, but the idea of rolling back the civil rights investigations as related to sexual assaults at schools is possibly one of the worst I’ve seen yet. I know that GVSU has been investigated for mishandling sexual assault cases–your administration does not want to make the list of universities that have Title IX complaints lodged against them public; can you explain the rationale behind that? Shouldn’t potential college students be aware of which universities to avoid like the plague?
What is wrong with you????”
I am most bothered by the actions of a woman who claims to be a Christian. I have seen NOTHING yet to convince me as such. When you put on that full armor of Christ, when you are baptized and you receive that new fresh spirit and strip off that “old man”, people should be able to SEE a difference within you. You should not have to tell people you are a Christian. They should just be able to see your light without you telling them it is lit. The BEST evidence I get of how I have changed is that people approach me with their burdens and fears before they even know I am a Christian because there is something about me that is approachable and encouraging. People can know me for a very short period of time and see that there is a LOT of love within me for people in general. But I am having a DIFFICULT time loving these hypocrites that claim to be of God but are so easily swayed by little green pieces of paper to take DUMPS on those less fortunate. Everything Mrs. DeVos has proposed thus far would negatively impact vulnerable students, and I strongly despise her for that. And I am extremely angry.