Letter to the editor: On the Derby Days incident

Posted on Apr 21 2016 - 7:01am by Lavina Ho

Dear Editor,

I am writing to address the article “Allegations of ‘sexual harassment’ at fraternity event continue.” To start, the use of quotation marks was inappropriate as it implies that it did not happen or is not credible. The title already stated that they were allegations and therefore quotes should not have been used. By placing allegations of sexual harassment within quotation marks, you are also invalidating the harassment that women on our campus face, thereby silencing others from speaking out.

I understand that it is difficult to balance the interests of various campus groups. Given that April is Sexual Assault awareness month, many of us are saddened to hear of incidents that continue to perpetuate harassment. The event, and therefore article, was no longer about philanthropy the moment a person reduced another individual to a sexual object. While the article discusses how some members of our campus believe that it was said in humor, being sexually harassed and assaulted is no laughing matter.

Placing the Derby Days incident within the larger context of our college campus, it was concerning to myself and others how the article was written. In reality, more than 90% of college students who experience a sexual assault do not report their assault (http://www.nsvrc.org/sites/default/files/publications_nsvrc_factsheet_media-packet_statistics-about-sexual-violence_0.pdf). After reading the article, it is not difficult to understand why women hesitate in speaking out.

Lastly, sexual harassment is only one aspect of violence against women. As we move forward, it is my goal that we truly listen to those who speak out rather than silence their experiences by dismissing it as humor, being too sensitive, or diverting the issue by discussing philanthropy. If individuals want to truly help people, start by validating others’ experiences and speak out by participating in the University’s climate survey (http://tinyurl.com/2016titleixclimatesurvey).


Lavina Ho

Clinical psychology doctoral student