Guest post: Not oblivious

Jan 30 2015 Published by under just sad

Hello old friends - I am kicking the dust off this blog after what has been way too long. I know that we have a lot of catching up to do, but right now there is something important I need to talk about. I don't think that you could miss it, but this week two former Vanderbilt football players were convicted of brutally raping a young woman. Of course they took some videos and passed them around to their friends. And of course, they were convinced up to the last minute that they would "beat" the charges. Because ... they play football?? ... they were too drunk to know what they were doing? (BARF!). I can't express how very angry and gut-wrenching I find this entire situation. There is so much fucked up here, I just can't even go through it all.
In the aftermath of the conviction, the Chancellor of Vanderbilt posted a statement about the situation. It includes lots of words about how this "isn't part of the culture here" and "this stuff is at all colleges" and blah blah blah when is this all going to go away?
Others at Vanderbilt are having a different reaction. Below is a message that I got from Dr. BethAnn McLaughlin (@McLNeuro), a faculty member at Vanderbilt's Medical school. She has agreed to let me post it here for you
From Dr. McLaughlin:
I am not oblivious.
The New York Times claims today that Vanderbilt is oblivious to the horrific violent rape of a neuroscience undergraduate student by 4 former football players. I have many neuroscience undergraduates in my lab. I am not oblivious. I I am angry. I am embarassed. And I am crushed to my core.
I am keenly aware through the outstanding work of Kate Clancy and Hope Jahren that women face horrible violence everyday throughout the world. And I would like to think that my daughter will never have to face harassment or violence because she is female. As a mother I want to believe that putting Amelia in the best schools provides extra levels of protection for her when I am not there.
Statistics speak of a different reality - one that doesn't care how high you have moved up the ranks in academia.  This is heartbreaking and we must do better. I must do better for my students and we all must do better for women and girls in our country and throughout the world.
Friends who are professors, please talk to your graduate students and post docs about how you trust them to talk to you and will have their back. Most graduate students interact with undergrads every day. They need to know caring is part of our culture and more important than any experiment . Bring in HR to help you if you need to...that's what they are there for.
Parents, believing that being in a good school or around well educated men means your children are safe is something you do at your peril. This is not a safe world for women. Catcalls, harassment, violence, discrimination, pay inequality are all very real.
I don't have all the answers but I'm deeply committed to doing better for all the amazing women I have had the priveledge of mentoring. But please, don't believe the The New York Times when they say Vanderbilt University doesn't care.  I care.

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