Where is the high-octane outrage for the rampant sexual harassment on campus that featured so prominently in the parking ticket revenue? Where are the angry parents, the alumni chiming in with their stories, the chorus of calls to action? More importantly, what is Montclair State University doing about any of this?
The Montclarion raised awareness around the sexual harassment problem on campus back in October 2021, after multiple allegations were made regarding instances of harassment or assault in residence halls.
On Feb. 17, 2022, we published another piece in answer to an Instagram post on @montclairstateconfessions, where students once again came forward to report sexual harassment they had faced. While the overall response to the piece was appropriately upset, it paled in comparison to the reaction to our article on the parking ticket fiasco, which is still our most viewed post of all time.
Judging by recent events and numerous students who have shared their upsetting experiences, both through The Montclarion and on Instagram, Montclair State has seemingly failed many students who have come forward to report sexual violence. A sexual assault response system that allegedly tells a victim they have no evidence and allows their attacker to remain on campus is not just broken, it is a grotesque and cruel mockery of itself.
It’s been said over and over again, but clearly, it bears repeating: this negligent precedent is a major reason why sexual assaults are so underreported. Without adequate support, or even the bare minimum guarantee of being believed, reporting an attack often causes even more trauma on top of the attack itself.
The process for reporting sexual harassment or assault to Title IX is entirely internal, and if a hearing needs to be held regarding a case, it is usually conducted by university administrators. In other words, no matter how much “objectivity training” they receive, they are still Montclair State representatives. And because Title IX reports do not involve law enforcement, if the perpetrator does not face appropriate consequences as a result of the report, it’s likely the victim will have to continue to face their attacker on campus.
The Instagram comments on our most recent sexual harassment article show just how serious the problem is. Students came forward to share their own experiences and denounce the university’s track record of handling sexual assault and harassment cases. One comment said, “THIS IS WHY I LEFT MONTCLAIR [STATE]! MY HARASSER IS STILL ON CAMPUS AND THEY DID NOTHING!!”
We know the administration is reading our articles because we’ve gotten emails asking for corrections. But without reading the public response to our pieces, many of which deal with issues that most concern students, they are missing critical context. Social media is by far the most widely used platform when it comes to giving unadulterated feedback, and as proven by the 300-plus comments on our parking ticket article, people are more than willing to let their feelings be known.
If the administration really wants to know how students are feeling, they need to be looking at comments, raw feedback from real people with names and stories. The student body is not a monolith, it is made up of individuals and social media is the ultimate showcase in individualism. Everyone who comments has some form of input to give, and the more people there are with a common opinion on an issue, the more likely it is that serious consideration is due.
What good is it to read our articles if the endgame is scanning for errors? As of now, we have received no comment from the administration on the sexual harassment articles — no corrections, no concern, no acknowledgment of the courage or the pain of the Montclair State students who came forward to tell their stories.
This is a sensitive issue and it can’t be solved without a compassionate, prompt response. Montclair State: do better by your students, because this is beyond unacceptable.