protestors with stand with survivors sign

T-shirt of the Day: Ask Me How My College Is Protecting My Rapist

Last week, a group of 11 students kicked off a protest at St. Olaf College, wearing “Ask Me How My College Is Protecting My Rapist” t-shirts on campus to protest its mishandling of rape cases. While the media attention given to campus sexual assault remains largely limited to a certain demographic (Ivy League and Northeast), their efforts go to at least show that gender violence is happening across the country—and so is student organizing to fight it.

Wilson wears a shirt saying "Ask me how my college is protecting rapists."Madeline Wilson, a senior at St. Olaf and a fourth generation of her family to attend the small religious school in Minnesota, says the college grossly mishandled her rape report when school officials allowed lawyers to unfairly manipulate the investigation process and failed to use the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights evidence standards. They also allowed the perpetrator to stalk and harass Wilson for months in retaliation for reporting, without taking action to protect her. Wilson says:

After I was raped, I went to the administration because I had confidence in their ability to fairly and professionally handle my case. Despite my trust, I was met with a variety of procedural errors as well as instances in which the college actively refused to protect me. My school has completely failed to address my sexual assault or protect me from further harassment and abuse from my rapist. As the fourth generation of my family to attend St. Olaf, I am deeply hurt by the betrayal of a campus I trusted, and my sense of safety and community here is shattered.

Wilson’s report of her school’s mishandling of her case is part and parcel with testimonies by numerous other sexual assault survivors and student activists at St. Olaf College, 11 of whom have have committed to wearing the shirts around campus for the rest of the year or until the school initiates policy revisions. The group’s creative efforts to draw attention to their school’s gross incompetence draws from important work by countless other student survivors cross the country. The fact that their group has secured a meeting with top campus officials (who have invited the Department of Education to conduct an independent review of their policies) only speaks to the power of youth organizing.

Follow their movement here and take a minute to sign their petition.

Mahroh is a community organizer and law student who believes in building a world where black and brown women and our communities are able to live free of violence. Prior to law school, Mahroh was the Executive Director of Know Your IX, a national survivor- and youth-led organization empowering students to end gender violence and a junior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Her research addresses the ways militarization, racism, and sexual violence impact communities of color transnationally.

Mahroh is currently at Harvard Law School, organizing against state and gender-based violence.

Read more about Mahroh

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