What it’s like to be sexually harassed on campus and fight for justice, alone
Here is one student’s brave story
Update: After seven and a half months after filing the initial Title IX allegation, Quinn’s sexual harasser has officially been expelled from campus. Read below for these new details:
When sophomore Quinn Grady* walked into Ernie Davis dining hall in late-February, all she was expecting was a shitty college meal. However, she left with much more than that. Since that winter day, she’s endured months of sexual harassment, filed a police report, tons of visits to the Title IX office, and still, no resolution. Here is her story.
That day in the dining hall, Quinn was approached by a fellow student who repeatedly asked if he could sit next to her–being kind, she said yes.
She’d never met him in her life.
“You know, I’ve seen you around. You’re pretty attractive, and I want to get to know you,” he said. This is where Quinn drew the line and said no. But, he didn’t stop there. Eventually, she mentioned she had a boyfriend before asking him to leave her alone and eat in peace.
That’s when the boy got aggressive.
“I know where you live!” he shouted, before listing her residential hall and room number aloud to her. After Quinn told him to “get the fuck away,” she stormed off and left, frightened.
A few weeks go by, and Quinn doesn’t see him until March 27th at an off-campus party with her friends. She immediately recognized him, but she told her friends that was the guy she’d been scared of. Shortly after, he walked up to her, grabbed her forcibly by the arm and said, “we’re going home.”
“My friends and I physically had to push this kid off of me”
“It was then where I found out he was also doing this to other girls; they came up to me at the party said he was the same thing to them. Eventually, he was kicked out of the party for the night, and left solo.”
A few weeks after that with no sound of the harasser, Quinn wakes up to a friend request from him on Facebook. He’d also gotten ahold of her phone number (she still doesn’t know how he found her on Facebook as her account is “extremely private”). She immediately deleted the message, but took a screenshot of it.
On April 18th, Quinn made the decision to report her harasser to DPS. “Honestly, I was so scared of being labeled as paranoid or overreacting… I had mixed reviews from my friends on how I should handle the situation. Some people thought I should be complimented because he thought I was pretty.”
That following Monday on April 24th Quinn filed a no-contact order which states that the boy cannot contact her online, via text, and if she’s in a public building on campus and he comes in, he is required to leave. Although these arrangements sound good on paper, it’s certainly hard for them to follow through in real life. For example, Quinn was walking around campus and giving a tour of SU, and the boy was there and even tried making eye contact with her.
“Since I’ve filed the report, I’ve seen him in Ernie twice, and he hasn’t left… I’m just really frustrated.”
The Director of Residential Life is working with DPS on the ongoing investigation, but being that Quinn wasn’t physically assaulted, there’s not much that can be done
“I think stalking and harassing people is not okay. It creates an environment where you can’t focus on your academics or personal life. Overall, these incidents aren’t taken seriously enough and it shouldn’t have to result in physical altercations in order for people to be taken this seriously. As much as I love Syracuse University, I think they need to be proactive when it comes to situations like this,” she said.
The Title IX office and DPS have been “pretty distant in terms of letting me know what’s going on with the investigation,” she said. As of now, she doesn’t know the status of her investigation and has no idea when the Title IX office will review her case.
Quinn is scared for other female classmates who can also be put in this situation. “If this guy is walking around freely and faces no consequences, who’s to say he can’t do this to another girl at this very moment?”
As a tour guide, she often finds herself hiding her fear when it comes to telling prospective students and families about campus safety. “I had to talk about DPS and I lied and said I never felt unsafe on this campus… it is hard, because when I was touring, I didn’t even fathom going through a situation like this, but it’s really scary now. Once you feel your safety threatened, it’s horrifying.”
This isn’t the first time SU has been criticized for their handling of sexual assault cases
Back in August, SU was under investigation for “not responding promptly or equitably” to a case from May 2015. In January, SU faced another Title IX complaint after a graduate student claimed she “has been subject to a hostile working environment” and the school received a visit from the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to investigate further and speak with students. Lastly, in October of 2015, a student’s open letter to the Chancellor went viral after two sexual assaults occurred within a half hour time frame.
Quinn’s big takeaway for fellow students? “Although institutions won’t necessarily work in the way you want them to, you have to continually advocate for yourself. It’s really popular to blame yourself, the victim, and it’s important to always being your own biggest advocate.”
Luckily, however, Quinn’s friends and family have been extremely supportive, but nonetheless she’s excited for summer because of all the stress she’s endured over the last semester at school. She’ll be off to study abroad in the fall, and she’s hoping that by springtime, this will be nothing but a (traumatic) blimp in the past.
The Tab is happy to report that nearly eight months after filing the claim, Quinn’s harasser has been expelled. She will come back to campus this spring with a little less weight on her shoulders.
And we stand and breathe in relief with her.
Now more than ever, it’s crucial to note that there will always be others out there– and we are all effected by this; if not us directly, our friends and classmates. From Weinstein to Franken to the individuals surrounding us in our everyday lives, it’s important to be aware, proactive, and fight the system by using our voice until actions are changed.
If you or somebody you know has suffered from sexual assault or harassment at SU, call the following numbers to file a report or seek help.
Counseling Center: (315) 443-4715