We, the undersigned faculty members of Texas Tech, feel compelled to make a public statement in response to recent troubling events on campus, events which have garnered national media attention. We join Tech President M. Duane Nellis in denouncing these actions as reprehensible and as not reflecting “the culture or values of our university.”
In particular, the disparaging use of the phrase “no means yes” on a large banner, and images of the banner taken by members of a campus fraternity, make an utter mockery of rape. The slogan being parodied — “no means no” — reflects an all-too-real, ongoing problem of non-consensual sex, sexual violence and misogyny on U.S. campuses and in U.S. culture at large. As a community we need to ask ourselves how it can come about that our young men, men whom it is our job to educate, can find such entertainment in this kind of ridicule.
President Nellis has created a task force whose goal is “to present recommendations on enhancing current policies and procedures and introducing new education practices relating to Greek organizations.” We would encourage all members of the Tech community to consider what new policies and educational practices are needed, both for Greek organizations and for the Tech community in general.
Though it has been shown that college men in fraternities are more likely to commit sexual assault, attitudes promoting sexual violence and misogyny extend far beyond the Greek community. The fraternities and sororities should not be used as a sacrificial scapegoat that can absolve the larger community of responsibility. Recent studies suggest that 20 percent of college-aged women and 6 percent of college-aged men will be victims of sexual violence. This is an issue that implicates everyone.
We are heartened that President Nellis has brought much-needed attention to the attitudes about sexual objectification and violence with his recent letter to the community. We see this as a positive step in a long, ongoing journey toward a safer and more equitable campus and community. We also see this as an opportunity to highlight several organizations and initiatives already in place at Tech to combat the epidemic of sexual violence and harassment.
Among these are various initiatives sponsored by the Dean of Students Office, such as a recent talk by Dr. Michael Kimmel on the changing attitudes to sexual violence on campus, the Women’s Studies Program and its initiatives like the brown-bag lunches addressing everyday sexism, and the recent University Student Housing “consent campaign,” which echoes other recent national efforts. This is just a partial list of the many ways the Tech community is already working to change attitudes and actions associated with rape culture.
President Nellis has pledged, “to continue to keep the university community informed” of the progress of the task force and we are eager to hear news of this progress. Further, we faculty want to offer our backing to all current and forthcoming initiatives in this area. Most of all, we want our students, especially those who are survivors of sexual assault, to know we categorically condemn this most recent affront to the ideals of our community and will work hard alongside them to expel the fear and apathy that allows rape culture to persist.
No one should fear being a victim of sexual violence on the Tech campus, or anywhere else. Let’s work together as a community to promote a deeper sense of what it means to be fearless. Should you like to join us for future work, please contact Elizabeth.email@example.com.
Curtis Bauer, Chris Bains, Nancy Bell, Paul Bjerk, Kurt Caswell, Ed Check, Katie Cortese, Genevieve Durham-DeCesaro, Dirk Fowler, Idoia Elola, Amy N. Heuman, Corby Kelly, Don Lavigne, David H.J. Larmour, Lynda McBride, Kristen Moore, Victoria McReyonlds, Carmen Pereira, John Poch, Rebecca Rickly, Jennifer Sneed, Elizabeth Sharp and Chris Taylor.