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viewpoint

Typical monday morning story

| Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Why am I not surprised to read the headline “Two Sexual Crimes Reported on Campus” in today’s Observer newspaper? Every Friday and Saturday night, the students are up and about way beyond midnight because they know that they can spend Saturday and Sunday sleeping through the day. I know this because every Friday and Saturday night from my residence at Our Lady of Fatima House, I am woken up by students walking around the lake talking at the top of their voices, most often after 2:30 am. This raises a couple of questions: Why would anyone, young or old, freshman or senior, be outside at 2:30 am on any day of the week? And secondly, where are the Notre Dame Security Police officers? Shouldn’t they, knowing the proclivity for students to be out and about on Friday and Saturday nights, be out trying to help keep people where they are supposed to be?

A couple of possible suggestions. Although the police cannot go into the dorms, they should be able to make sure that those who are outside at all hours of the night are escorted to their respective dorms safely, reported to the rector and made sure they remain in the dorm all weekend.

Secondly, because most of these assaults take place in the men’s dorms, is it possible for the rectors and RAs of all men’s dorms to be more proactive on the weekends and make sure all their residents are in their rooms with no visitors? Where is the accountability of those who are tasked with ensuring rules are followed? Where also is the accountability of students to themselves and one another?

Thirdly, If the “boys” cannot police themselves because of alcohol, maybe the women should make greater effort in knowing the whereabouts of their roommates, hall-mates and dorm-mates are on Friday and Saturday nights. Ask your roommates, friends where they are going if you are not with them on a Friday or Saturday night. Ask them what time they will be back. If they do not return by parietals, inform your RA and make sure she is around until whoever is not present is accounted for. Call your friends on their cell phones if they are not in by parietals and tell them you are coming to get them.

As a Notre Dame family we are failing these students when we let them go out each weekend vulnerable to being assaulted. It is time to move beyond prayer after the fact, to greater prevention, and put an end to the what is becoming predictable Monday morning stories of reported sexual assaults.

 

Fr. David Kashangaki
Parochial Vicar
St. Patrick’s Parish, South Bend
Aug. 31

 

 

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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  • Kristen Koch

    While I certainly don’t want to take the focus off the need for change, with which I fully agree with Fr. Kashangaki, I am concerned with the perspective he takes on limiting the independence of our adult students. He very much misunderstands that staying up (and out) late, having visitors (of the same gender), and sleeping elsewhere than one’s own bed are all allowed. Parietals are not comparable to a child’s bedtime or teenager’s curfew. And it is not the police’s job to “keep people where they are supposed to be”, because there is not one specific place people are “supposed” to be. Furthermore, perspectives such as this do not help to empower students to be a part of the solution, but rather places a disproportionate amount of accountability on RAs, rectors, and the police. While I am honestly not sure the best way to bring change, treating people as less than adults is certainly not it.

    Kristen Koch, class of 2009

    • David Kashangaki

      That’s the problem: No one is sure what the best way to bring change is. Therefore do we do nothing and let young women continue to go through the agony of sexual assault. I hope my third suggestion was an effort to encourage young women to empower themselves. Knowing there are others who have your back seems would be a great source of confidence to go out and make the best decisions and if you slip up, there are people who will be there for you.
      I think the Notre Dame handbook has some very specific regulations about staying out and up, having same gender visitors in other dorms and being away from one’s room. But the real issue with sexual assault is boys and girls hanging out together in places that can compromise their safety. They can certainly be together in the library and in the student center. But they shouldn’t be together in the rooms of opposite gender members, and this more than anything is what needs to be enforced more fully.

      • Kristen Koch

        I am quite sure that people are not “doing nothing”, and thus in our dialogue about what more can be done, we should be very careful to still respect the critically important freedoms of all students. And fortunately you are mistaken, as I stated, there are none (let alone very specific) rules about those topics. Lastly, I very much disagree that further restricting opposite gender visitation will help the problem.

      • João Pedro Santos

        The solution to sexual assault consists in educating people, talking with them about consent and creating resources to help victims. Treating young adults as if they were criminals and blaming sexual assault victims is no solution.

  • JD

    “Why would anyone, young or old, freshman or senior, be outside at 2:30 am on any day of the week?”

    Do you even go here?

  • Notre Dame 2014 grad

    I am staggered that a priest would write this:

    Thirdly, If the “boys” cannot police themselves because of alcohol,
    maybe the women should make greater effort in knowing the whereabouts of
    their roommates, hall-mates and dorm-mates are on Friday and Saturday nights.

    You say this like someone else told you the boys cannot police themselves, but whether or not someone else said that or you said that – you’re wrong. The onus on preventing rape is not on the women, it is not on anyone woman or man who may find themselves a victim. The onus in preventing rape is on the rapists – it is not my job to stop anyone from raping me (though I can and should try to make myself as safe as possible) – it is the job of anyone who might rape to not violate the bodily integrity of another to make themselves feel strong.

    The “boys” and everyone else should absolutely be able to police themselves because of alcohol, at least when it comes to making sure they and their friends do not violate the body of another.

    Instead of victim-blaming, like you did here, let’s start a conversation about what “consent” is. I realize this is hard for us to do as a Catholic school, but this is what we need to do. Let’s talk about how we can make it harder for people to think hurting others is ok, by not watching any questionable behavior (intervening when something looks off or if we don’t see enthusiastic consent between two parties) and by not listening to any questionable words (not laughing at jokes about violence towards women/other groups). Let’s talk about what it takes to respect the dignity of our peers, and about how “drunk” is never an excuse.

    But whatever we choose to do, I hope you can see how utterly and horribly wrong even the intimation that it’s ok that the “boys” cannot police themselves because of alcohol. That is the most disappointing sentence I have EVER read from a member of the clergy, and I hope you reconsider how that hurts the people you claim to want to protect.

    Sincerely yours,
    2014 female grad