UPenn Tries to Address Rape Culture After Backlash
Students are hesitantly optimistic about a new “task force.”
by Molly Thomson
Two months ago, if you visited the University of Pennsylvania campus, you would have seen papers littering trees, telephone polls, and academic buildings. Upon closer inspection, you would have noticed that they all had “THIS IS WHAT RAPE CULTURE LOOKS LIKE” marked over them in angry black letters, and upon closer inspection still you would have realized what the fraternity e-mail under them said.
It said that freshman women were invited to a party—if they wore tight clothing. It said they were free to come and drink—so long as they weren’t teases. With every sentence it propagated rape culture and the notion of women as objects.
And women didn’t take it lying down. A group of female students posted hundred of the fliers around campus, and over 900 women on campus signed a petition condemning the school’s lack of reaction to the incident.
University of Pennsylvania struggled to right the wrong, as they couldn’t punish the fraternity (OZ) as a whole since it was already underground and not affiliated with the school.
Now, UPenn is attempting to smooth over matters by creating a new task force to prevent sexual assault and harassment on campus.
“Penn has made widespread, concerted efforts to prevent sexual assault and sexual violence on our campus and to create a healthier and safer environment for all members of our community,” university president Amy Gutmann said. “There is always more work to be done.”
The task force will be charged with creating a safer campus climate, reviewing existing protocols, and holding students accountable in an effort to diminish rape culture.
Students seem positive but cautious about the new task force. Student and activist Syra Ortiz-Blanes told The Philly Voice: “I can’t tell how effective it will be…there is no way to hold people accountable in many situations, this could create a way to do so.”
We hope that this new task force works, and that UPenn is able to address campus rape culture head-on.