Last week’s alleged rape has turned St. John’s upside down, both causing a public stir and inquisitive speculation into the night’s events. While reports have varied, and at times been outlandish, the questions of identifying the rapist and learning the nuances of the entire case have been a mainstay.
When tragedy hits home, especially one as personal and particular as this one, there is no room for political finger pointing or Monday morning quarterbacking.
The situation has not been handled perfectly – the windows on the first floor of DaSilva Hall were screwed shut and the students were not directly informed by Residence Life administrators quickly enough. Most of the University’s choices have been the result of knee-jerk reactions, attempting to alleviate the awkward and unfortunate predicament as quickly and definitively as possible.
And while Student Affairs and the rest of the school’s administrative organizations should not receive a free pass, the students must open up to an understanding for such rash reactions, for they are not free from guilt either.
Over the course of the past few semesters, there has been a growing resentment on campus for the Residence Hall policies, often labeled restrictive and unfair.
The policies, while most times met with disdain, have now been met with a definite level of understanding.
“When something like this happens, I understand why we have such tight security,” said freshman Rico Ryan, a DaSilva Hall resident.
Freshman resident Jennifer Drago repeated this sentiment when asked about the strict Residence Life policies.
“This is annoying, but I feel safe,” Drago said.
Dr. Jose Rodriguez, the interim director of Residence Life, associate vice president of Student Affairs, and Dean of Students, is likely subject to one of the most trying stretches of his entire career. While Rodriguez declined comment on the incident (citing the pending investigation), it is evident that he is stuck between the rocks of even tighter security and festering campus resentment.
For now, it is expected and acceptable that University administrators say little about this tragedy. They are unfairly subject to much scrutiny under the biased microscope of hindsight.
The matters of responsibility and accountability can be widely shared by all parties involved, including the victim herself, as she stated in an interview.
This incident, however, is not the type of happening that deserves to be subject to the kind of round-table cross-firing that we see so often in the media. This incident deals with the effects and nuances of violence, not sex.
To politicize such an issue is not just mindless, it is inhumane.
Instead of filling our minds with speculation and hearsay, we must divulge ourselves into foreign shoes; the shoes of the administration, the shoes of her friends, and most of all, the shoes of the victim.
The victim of this violent crime is a student, a teenager at that, who must not only carry with her a degradation of body and mind, but is subject to immature banter among students who overlook the violent nature of this crime and the personal account of the victim.
She is not a statistic or an example, though she will be widely known as such. She is an individual who suffered a personal, intimate, and grievous attack.
In a time where nearly every issue is politicized, we must not leave room in our hearts for cynical speculation or iniquitous judgment. That space must be left only for compassion.