A #JustSaySorry Update from Kamilah

 

SERC co-founder Kamilah Willingham holding a #JustSaySorry sign. Click here to download and print your own. Take a photo of yourself with the sign and email it to us or share on social media to show your support!

 
 

Wagatwe and I launched this campaign two months ago intending to burn reminders of our schools until our schools apologized or until we ran out of items to burn.

Well, I’m out of items to burn. I burned my Harvard sweatpants, my admission letter, and my Harvard Law class fleece — the few reminders of my once beloved school that I've held onto since graduating. Despite my repeated demands for acknowledgment and an apology from my school for their well-established record of failing sexual assault survivors like me, and in the face of international media coverage of this campaign and requests for comment from journalists, Harvard Law and Harvard University have been silent. Tufts has similarly declined to respond to Wagatwe’s demands for an apology for the way they have failed her and compounded the trauma of survivors in the Tufts University community.

We started the #JustSaySorry campaign because these failures are pervasive among U.S. colleges and universities. We will continue to demand that schools apologize to the countless students whose education, safety, and wellbeing have been compromised by their failures.

As survivors of campus sexual assault, we are well accustomed to our demands for recognition and our pain being belittled, dismissed, or ignored by our schools. To be clear: we are not seeking validation. We know that our stories and all survivors’ stories matter, and we will continue to to promote that truth in our work and in our personal lives, regardless of how powerful institutions may seek to avoid it. That means we're not giving up any time soon: this is just the beginning.

That Harvard Law’s process was biased and that they failed me and other survivors is not in question: they were forced to change their policies as a result of mine and other students’ Title IX complaints. What is in question is the school’s integrity and its administration’s ability to model a culture of respect and accountability. Like the rapists who still haunt our educational communities because of our schools’ inaction, too many college and university administrations deny and minimize the harms they’ve caused rather than honestly confront them. I am continually disappointed in Harvard Law School’s leadership for the way that they, like so many other schools, have passively institutionalized rape culture in their misguided attempts to insulate themselves from public scrutiny and legal liability.

The next item I burn for #JustSaySorry will be an item from another survivor, from another school, with an outrageously similar story of sexual assault and trauma aggravated by institutional failure.

Click here for ways you can support and join us in demanding that colleges and universities #JustSaySorry to survivors of sexual assault in their communities. There is tremendous strength in numbers: let's work together to elevate the voices of survivors and eradicate rape culture. 

In solidarity,

Kamilah Wilingham