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Letter to the editor: Dissenting Voices clears misconceptions, reiterates goals

In light of the Huffington Post article published this week, Dissenting Voices commends the courage of those survivors who provided their testimony in the face of hostility, public shaming and retaliation. This article has contributed to a nationwide discussion about sexual assault and Title IX enforcement on college campuses. However, we realize that these conversations—and the changes they inspire—can be difficult, painful and messy. This week, we hope to contribute to this crucial discussion on campus by offering some points of clarification, and suggesting ways in which community members can support student survivors during this challenging time.

Background of the Article

The journalist, Tyler Kingkade, was not solicited by Dissenting Voices nor by any individual member of the group. Indeed, Dissenting Voices was asked for a quote only days before the article was published. National groups such as End Rape on Campus and Faculty Against Rape were alerted to the issues that survivors of sexual misconduct have faced at Grinnell, and it was a member of these national groups that made the initial contact with Kingkade. In this regard, the article is representative of several years of efforts by students who have felt betrayed by Grinnell’s Title IX policies. For example, in 2012 a group of anonymous survivors published their narratives in The S&B: ( Dissenting Voices formed last semester to continue this tradition of feminist activism. We are honored and humbled to continue this crucial conversation and push for a safer Grinnell.

Responses to Retaliatory Behavior

Dissenting Voices urges students to resist engaging in misinformed or malicious conversations on campus. Yik Yak has been the site of inflammatory conversations, including false accusations and slander against Dissenting Voices and survivors named in the article. Additionally, the names of alleged assailants were posted to Yik Yak sometime this week. Dissenting Voices does not condone these actions in any way. We do, however, acknowledge that students are grappling with feelings of outrage, confusion and/or fear, and that many students want to support survivors. Following the advice from a local rape survivor advocacy group to ensure proper intentional support and activism, we are happy to present some ways that students can support survivors at this time:

• Publicly express your support and/or solidarity with survivors. We want to create a campus climate where students feel safe speaking out against the College’s sexual misconduct policies.

• Report conversations that threaten, reveal information concerning or otherwise shame student survivors or their allies—whether online or in person. These comments constitute retaliation against the survivors and must be handled appropriately. Reports can be made to Dissenting Voices ( or directly to the Dean of Students or the Title IX Coordinator.

• Encourage friends and community members to discuss the Huffington Post article in forums that allow for intentional and respectful conversations to take place.

Abbreviated Aims and Goals

Dissenting Voices congratulates Grinnell administrators on their excellent policy changes in recent weeks, but in order to further improve student safety on campus, we encourage Grinnell to pursue further changes in the form of four main goals:

1. The expulsion of students found responsible for non-consensual intercourse. As the Dean of Students suggested in the Huffington Post article, Grinnell’s campus is too small to enforce no-contact orders;

2. A full-time Title IX coordinator with a relevant background in gender and women’s studies, law and/or social work, with some level of autonomy from the President’s Office;

3. The establishment of a Women’s Center to provide a safe space with the means to provide information on Title IX resources and support student survivors;

4. Improved accommodations for survivors, including but not limited to mental health services, academic accommodations, self-defense courses and stricter enforcement of assailant sanctions following living/housing arrangements.

The full list of our goals and aims can be found on our website:

Future Plans and Opportunities for

Community Engagement

We are excited to announce that Intersectional Feminist Alliance and Dissenting Voices have collaborated to secure SGA funding to train two nurses to become certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners in Grinnell. In addition, Dissenting Voices will host a safe space today at 8 p.m. in the SRC to discuss how to better support survivors. After spring break, Dissenting Voices is planning to present two documentary films about sexual assault on college campuses. We hope that these efforts will continue providing spaces for direct, meaningful community engagement with the important issue of sexual assault on Grinnell’s campus.

In solidarity,

Eliana Schechter ’17

Carl Sessions ’15

Geo Gomez ’15

Louisa Silverman ’15

Kayleigh Kresse ’15

Linnea Hurst ’15

Youngbin Song ’15

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