Quote of the Day: Dartmouth still doesn’t understand sexual violence


High-risk alcohol use and sexual assault are issues that face educational institutions nationwide. Here at Dartmouth, President Hanlon has charged our community to work together to end high-risk and harmful behavior on campus.

–Dartmouth email to parents of incoming freshmen

Are you enraged yet? Dartmouth has been under fire for tolerating sexual violence on campus and failing to support survivors. Despite promises to shape up and a big PR stunt in the form of a campus sexual assault conference, it looks like Dartmouth hasn’t learned its lesson.

Great that you want to stops sexual violence, and great that you want to stop dangerous drinking habits. But conflating the two only perpetuates the myths that 1) all campus violence follows the “drunk girl at the party” narrative, which it absolutely doesn’t and 2) the key to stopping sexual violence is stopping binge drinking, not stopping rapists.

This email goes beyond the Emily Yoffe “debate” about whether alcohol education stops violence — a conversation I’m frankly sick of having. Here, Dartmouth not only connects the two problems but reduces them to one another, just two sides of the “high-risk and harmful” coin. As the school explains, they don’t see two separate problems but a unified set of efforts to “reduce dangerous alcohol use and prevent sexual assault.”

When we accept the comfortable but oversimplified narrative that sexual assault is a problem of college kids with stupid drinking habits, we put blinders on, willfully obscuring the range of forms violence takes and the complexity of its causes. We elide systemic roots and institutional responsibility. We elide reality. And students’ safety — in their dorms, in the lab, at the hands of their partners, and, yes, at parties — depend on us doing better than that.

AlexandraAlexandra Brodsky is a Feministing editor, student at Yale Law School, and founding co-director of Know Your IX.

Washington, DC

Alexandra Brodsky was a senior editor at Feministing.com. During her four years at the site, she wrote about gender violence, reproductive justice, and education equity and ran the site's book review column. She is now a Skadden Fellow at the National Women's Law Center and also serves as the Board Chair of Know Your IX, a national student-led movement to end gender violence, which she co-founded and previously co-directed. Alexandra has written for publications including the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and the Nation, and she is the co-editor of The Feminist Utopia Project: 57 Visions of a Wildly Better Future. She has spoken about violence against women and reproductive justice at campuses across the country and on MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, ESPN, and NPR.

Alexandra Brodsky was a senior editor at Feministing.com.

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