by Rafaella Gunz
Content warning: Rape culture and rhetoric.
On September 24, Western Kentucky University (WKU) played a football game against Vanderbilt University. In honor of this event, WKU fraternities both on and off campus posted signs to support their school’s team.
However, these signs were not positive messages. This past year, Vanderbilt dealt with a serious rape case, where a former football player encouraged his teammates to gang rape an unconscious woman. During the September game, WKU’s signs of “support” for their team focused on making fun of of the rape case and the victim involved.
“Greek organizations placed bed sheets across campus, both on private homes and Greek -owned property, before the WKU vs. Vanderbilt game. These signs had sexist slurs and mocked the rape case that shook Vanderbilt’s campus recently,” Briana Phillips, a 23-year-old student at WKU, said. She was shocked and appalled by these signs, saying they made “women on campus feel unsafe and excluded.”
“Although our Greek life tried to use the excuse of ‘supporting the victim’ and making fun of rape culture, this incident proves that college campus sexual assault is still a punchline, and not to be taken seriously,” says Phillips. “Seeing these signs and phrases by some of the most powerful organizations on campus most likely forced women to relive their assault and the lack of support they got as a victim each time they passed these buildings. It should be common sense at this point that rape is not funny, and these women are not laughing.”
Phillips is part of the Southern Kentucky chapter of Riot Grrrl. Her and others in the collective urge people to contact the school to complain about this incident. “We want action and change on our campus. We want to feel safe,” Phillips says.
Below is contact information for the school:
WKU Public Affairs: (270) 745-4586
WKU Human Resources: (270) 745-5360
WKU President’s Office: (270) 745-4346
General Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rafaella Gunz is a recent graduate of The New School in NYC, where she majored in journalism and minored in gender studies. Her work has previously been published on Ravishly, Slutist, Feministing, Guerrilla Feminism, The Tab, and DeadState. Visit her website: ellagunz.com.