An open letter to Residential Life and greater Saint Anselm College administration

Anonymous submission

It is not important that I mention my name in this piece, because every person with the power to have taken action for me knew it a year ago, when I needed action. Ryan Ford and the higher ups of Residential Life knew. Deans knew. I wrote a piece three months ago about the impact that being assaulted on my campus and then forced to work in close contact with my assaulter had on me. Last week I met with the director of Residential Life, who told me I should have thought more about my impact on the institution of Residential Life when I wrote about my experience. Susan Weintraub, I did not write it for you. Taylor Swift said on Saturday Night Live when asked about how she thinks her music impacts those that hurt her: “I don’t.” This could not possibly ring more true to me. I didn’t write it for your feelings, for the feelings of those you work with, for anyone who would like to make themselves feel victimized over my suffering. I wrote it for the multitudes of people on this campus that have suffered at the hands of men (and women) that take senselessly from those around them and are never held accountable. I wrote it for every woman that came to me crying after I published my story, and told me their own that rang too true. I wrote it for me. 

There is a premonition on this campus that action cannot be taken unless a person decides to go through an outdated, overly complex, victim-harming Title IX process. I don’t think that can be true in a place I love so much. Maybe there’s something naive in that. I don’t know. But I know I’ve seen a culture shift since I wrote about my experience- I’ve seen women and men become more open about their experiences, more vocal about the problems they’re seeing, more honest about their pain. I didn’t ask to be the face of anything: I asked for people to listen. This campus is listening. Residential Life, clearly, is not. 

I love Saint Anselm. I love the culture of service we represent within our community; I love our traditions. I love everything that we stand for. We, as a student body, need to hold men accountable for their actions. We need to make it embarrassing to step out of the house as a person who is known to disregard the boundaries of women. We need men and women on this campus to stand against sexual violence in a way we simply haven’t before. 

My perpetrator did not only harm me before he left our community. Most do not only harm one person. Sexual and domestic violence is a pattern. I have never claimed to be an expert in anything, but I know one thing: accountability is hard to find, in a place full of people who love Saint Anselm. Our home is made worse when we don’t stand up for our values when members of our own community go against them. And since our administration, our Residential Life staff, and our college authorities won’t do it, we need to. It’s an unfair burden. It’s also a necessary one. 

I’ve seen a lot of harm in the past three and a half years. I’ve seen a lot of pain on this campus. A lot of aching. I’ve also seen a lot of hope. I think we can do better and be better, to keep people safe, to promote love, to be the best Saint Anselm we can be. I’m entering my final semester in the place I call home. I want to know I left Saint Anselm better than I found it. 

Edited on December 17, 2021 12:20pm