Addressing the Harmful Myths Surrounding Campus Sexual Assault

In a letter to long-time Washington Post columnist George Will, Tammy and three of her colleagues today called out the columnist for his June 6 piece on campus sexual assault in which he claims that survivors of the callous crime occupy a “coveted status” on their campuses that “confers privileges.”

Joined on the letter by Senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Dianne Feinstein of California, and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Tammy and her colleagues penned a message to Will to inform him that not only does his writing show a fundamental disrespect to survivors – it is completely inconsistent with the reality of victims’ experience.

“Having an ongoing interest in ways to reduce sexual assaults on college campuses, we read your June 6 column on campus sexual assault with particular dismay. Your thesis and statistics fly in the face of everything we know about this issue. More egregiously, you trivialize the scourge of sexual assault, putting the phrase in scare quotes and treating this crime as a socially acceptable phenomenon. It is in fact a spreading epidemic, and you legitimize the myths that victims and victim advocates have worked tirelessly for decades to combat,” the senators wrote.

The senators added, “We will continue our efforts to reduce sexual assaults on college campuses, and we ask that you listen to the people we are hearing from on this issue. Our efforts both in Washington and in our home states are well-documented, and we have found people to be extraordinarily willing to share their experiences as we work together to address this terrible epidemic. We believe you will find their experiences to be in stark contrast to any stories you have heard regarding people with a ‘coveted status’ and ‘privilege.’”

Click here for a PDF and here for a graphic version of the letter.

Geroge Will Letter Graphic