Morehouse, Spelman Students Post Signs Naming Accused Rapists
Since 2013, administrators at Morehouse College and Spelman College have been criticized for their handling of reported sexual assaults.
Frustrated students, who say widespread sexual assault and little consequence by school officials is commonplace on their Atlanta campuses, took matters into their own hands by calling out both administration and accused rapists.
On November 8, students at Clark Atlanta University, Spelman College and Morehouse College, all part of the Atlanta University Center Consortium, plastered signs across the campuses to address the schools’ lack of accountability and effort in investigating reported sexual assaults.
Some signs aimed at administration read “No More Secrets” and “Morehouse Protects Rapists – Spelman Protects Rapists”. Others adorned the names of accused rapists and organizations they are affiliated with, accompanied by the hashtag #WeKnowWhatYouDid. The signs were covered in plastic to protect them from rain but were eventually removed by local police.
“It’s very often where victims stay silent and are kept silent, so I think it’s beautiful whoever put those posters down,” says Spelman senior Micaela Harris.
The following day, the Martin Luther King Jr. Chapel on the Morehouse campus was spray-painted with the words “Practice what you preach Morehouse + end rape culture). The graffiti was covered by campus police with a brown tarp, reports The Chronicle.
Spelman and Morehouse are both private, historically black liberal arts colleges whose alumni include activists Alice Walker and Martin Luther King Jr.
In addition to the signs and graffiti, students also lined up outside of the Spelman and Morehouse campus police stations demanding law enforcement take action in pending or suspected sexual assault cases, reports BET.
Accounts of Alleged Sexual Assaults, Support Posted on Social Media
Many showed support for the actions on social media using the hashtag #WeKnowWhatYouDid. Some used the hashtag to recount their own experiences with sexual assault.
According to CBS 46, only one rape has been reported by Spelman College since 2014 and only two cases of dating violence have been reported since 2016.
In 2016, a former Spelman student started an anonymous Twitter account with the handle @RapedAtSpelman, where she outlined her alleged rape on the all-female campus. She says her attackers were upperclassmen from Morehouse, an all-male campus.
The former student says she filed a report with the dean and public safety office but it took the school a month to contact her regarding the assault, according to Wear Your Voice. She claims the dean told her that Spelman and Morehouse were “brother and sister so I should give them a pass.”
In a 2016 article from Buzzfeed News, some students say they were assaulted but did not report it because they felt guilty for turning in one of their “brothers” and for reinforcing the stereotypes of black men.
Following the most recent events, Morehouse president Harold L. Martin, Jr., delivered a speech stating, “Underlying that hashtag is clearly a belief that there is a population that does not feel heard on this very important issue in the AUC and on our campus.”
Martin, Jr. also emphasized he would show students who have been accused of sexual assault “the due respect and compassion of not jumping to judgment, fully investigating, and not making any decisions” before having all of the facts. “It’s also going to be the last time that anybody defaces the chapel on our campus, but we will do the work on this important issue. Is that clear?”
Spelman released a statement on its website, saying in part, “The College is committed to combating sexual assault and harassment on campus. Our efforts in this area are focused on prevention of these acts and are directed at every member of the college community.”
Morehouse also released a statement, saying the school has a zero-tolerance policy for any type of violence, harassment or unwanted contact.
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