On the evening of January 23, 2010, several students attended the Graffiti Party at Tau Kappa Epsilon, including Jan*, who decided to spend the evening with her friends. After an evening of partying, which included alcohol consumption, this young woman decided to spend the night with friends.
“They assured me I’d be safe staying there,” said Jan. “I trusted them.”
The plan was for her to spend the night on a couch so she would not have to walk home alone under the influence of alcohol. Jan was with three other people and became intimate with the other female. When one male asked to join in, she said she was not comfortable with him touching her.
Soon after, the other male turned off the lights and touched her inappropriately.
“I started panicking and crying,” Jan said. “I knew I had to leave.”
Jan struggled against both men before being able to leave. The people she was with told her not to leave and hid her shoes and jacket with her keys in it. She left anyhow and was able to get help afterward and told her story to close friends.
Afterward, she recognized she made a few mistakes associated with the incident.
“I know I messed up as well,” she said. “I’ve done my best to come to terms with that.”
She has heard some people say she had a problem with the other female involved, however she was disturbed when them men became involved without her consent.
Initially, Jan thought about calling the police but decided not to because she wanted to focus on making sure she was okay before taking action. Additionally, she did not want to involve lawyers.
“I didn’t have any proof that this happened,” said Jan, which contributed to why she did not call the police. “I don’t know if [calling the police] would have helped me.”
Within the week, she contacted Director of Residential Learning Craig Southern and Campus Safety Director John Schlaf. They spoke with her in a group meeting. She also spoke with Dean of Students Xavier Romano about her issues twice. During the first meeting, she said Romano told her that he had met with the accused men. They expressed remorse, Romano said, and told him they did not want her to feel uncomfortable on campus.
“I do not feel like that’s enough,” said Jan. “I feel like a secondhand apology is not sufficient.”
Jan also filed an informal complaint with the Grievance Panel and was unsatisfied with the results. In the end, however, she said she was never informed about the action taken.
“It felt like [the men] just got a scolding,” she said.
She feels that her case was not taken as seriously as it could have been because she was assaulted, not raped. However, the assault experience was traumatic. She was able to see a counselor twice since the incident, which helped a bit.
“It did help to talk to someone who’s objective in the situation,” Jan said.
Jan was upset when she read the letter to the editor by Alex Chandler-Minner. She did not feel she reached closure with her incident of sexual assault.
Currently, the men are still on campus, which makes Jan feel uncomfortable. She said a part of her feels compelled to transfer as a result of this experience if it is not better handled in the future.
“I love this place. I just don’t feel safe,” Jan said. “I have to see these guys every day.”
After the assault
Since her experience, Jan has spent time with her friends in other spaces.
During the week, she often sees the men who assaulted her on campus. When she sees them walking, her first impulse is to go in the other direction, but then she thinks twice.
“I feel like I shouldn’t have to avoid them, they should avoid me,” Jan said.
Apart from the recent meetings she has had with Deans, she says she is pushing forward with her life at Knox.
This experience has been a forum for her to meet with other victims of sexual assault to share stories and support each other.
“It has been an experience that’s brought me to meet new people,” she said. “I have no problem talking about what happened. I think it’s important it doesn’t go unnoticed.”
Jan plans on being a part of any forums where she can talk about her experience. It is important to her that this problem is not forgotten and that women who experience this are not alone.
Those moments after Jan ran from her assaulter were distressing.
“That feeling of isolation is terrifying,” she said. “I just want to know [other victims] are not alone.”
The posters that were around campus were also encouraging for her.
“I was thrilled by the posters that went up,” Jan said. She felt the posters showed students were paying attention to the larger issues of assault on campus.
*Name changed for privacy.