From 2004-05, I was the president of the Bradley chapter of VOX, and I minored in Women’s Studies. I went on to earn a Master of Arts in Women’s and Gender Studies. On December 14, I was surprised by a WMBD news clip of President Gary Roberts discussing sexual assault on campus. He mentioned how the crimes simply, “…involve students… who got really drunk.”
His irresponsibility heightened from there. “Teenage kids sometimes behave in stupid ways,” he said. Enlightening! “It really was just an unfortunate incident involving some students that didn’t behave very well.” (Those are his exact words, and his poor grammar.) His hastily-issued apology later in the day wasn’t much better. His original comment was one, “…some people have interpreted as implying that I do not regard sexual assault as a serious crime and that I am excusing criminal behavior,” he wrote.
If the public did interpret his original comments in such a manner, it was clearly because the comments did in fact imply a lack of serious regard toward sexual assault and appeared to excuse criminal behavior. I could attempt to justify those comments by reminding everyone how university presidents sometimes behave in stupid ways, but Roberts carefully pointed the “stupid” finger at the perpetrator and the victim. Rather than condemning the act, he chose to blame the victim for drinking and brushed it off as teenage antics.
Sexual assault is inexcusable, and so is the failure by Roberts to call out such a crime. His lack of judgment is irresponsible and dangerous to the Bradley community as a whole, as well as to the victim.
As an alum and a survivor of sexual assault, I know sexual violence cannot be justified. Rather than tolerating Roberts’ victim-blaming, we must demand better. That’s why I am calling on President Gary Roberts to resign. Shame on you, sir, for not demanding better behavior from students and for not displaying better judgment yourself.
I also have a few words for to the student who bravely reported the assault: I believe you. I’m sorry it happened to you, and I’m sorry Bradley’s president does not take you seriously.
Rebecca Klugiewicz, ‘05