Letter from the editor: Your letters don’t make you a perpetrator, your actions do

Three weeks ago, when we ran Kelsey Santmyer’s column about her rape, I never expected the positive reactions we received from the University of Rhode Island community.

I was in awe at the overwhelming support Kelsey received in the column’s aftermath. URI community members held a rally that packed the Memorial Union Atrium to stand up and speak out about sexual violence. You, our readers, wrote to us to support Kelsey. The University released statements about their methods to stop sexual violence on our campus.

There was also that small, unsubstantiated, rumor about the Cigar getting sued.

As journalists, we have but one goal: to report truth. We don’t take sides, and we don’t let the opinions of our reporters seep into their objective work. We are committed to unbiased, fair and honest reporting. In this case, Kelsey’s column did reflect her own experiences, and we, as a newspaper, provided her with a platform to tell her story.

We are not targeting the Greek community at URI.

Kelsey’s column wasn’t about revenge, it was about making sure that no student on this campus is silenced in the wake of an attack. It was meant to bring awareness, and to ensure that a story as horrific as Kelsey’s doesn’t happen again.

In fact, it’s brave individuals like Kelsey that make us challenge our assumptions about rape and rape culture. That’s a good thing, too, because these conversations about rape and sexual violence are necessary to make sure other students–members of our URI family–aren’t a statistic. Her column forced us to take a stand against campus rape, and opened up a conversation that URI cannot let fade away.

One of the most important lessons to take away from the column is that this is an issue that doesn’t discriminate. Anyone can be a victim, but too often we fail to acknowledge that anyone can be a perpetrator of sexual assault. In this case, Greek Life was the organization that got caught in the crossfire.

It doesn’t matter what letters you wear, which team you represent or which student organization you hail from. We are one student body, and it’s time to hold each other accountable. We need to make sure that Kelsey’s story isn’t forgotten, because it could have been any of us.

It could have been you.

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Emma Gauthier
Emma is a senior journalism and English double major with a minor in political science from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. She has worked for the Cigar since her first semester at URI as a staff reporter, then web editor, news editor and finally Editor in Chief. Emma also edits for the URI research magazine, Momentum, and hopes to find a career in political reporting upon her graduation in May.