The Daily Illini

Prestigious institutions aren’t immune to sexual assault

By Isabella Winkler, Columnist

United States politicians have been involved in over 40 sex scandals since 1980. Between affairs and harassment allegations, it is frustrating to see men who are held to such high standards manipulate their powers.

Many of these men are plucked from the most prestigious colleges across the country. We trust them with policy and legislation because they’re Harvard and Yale graduates, but perhaps that title doesn’t mean what it used to.

Their careless actions could be quid pro quo mentality, or perhaps an appendage of elitist upper class culture.

Last week, Charles M. Storey, a member of the Porcellian Club, an elite all-male group of Harvard students, expressed that he was “mystified” as to why they should start accepting women into the club.

“Forcing single gender organizations to accept members of the opposite sex could potentially increase, not decrease the potential for sexual misconduct,” Storey said.

The Porcellian Club isn’t just an extension of a fraternity or a nerdy honors society. The secret “final club” has membered the likes of Roosevelts and Washingtons.

Besides admitting that “sexual misconduct” occurs within the club, Storey was kind enough to reveal a problem that plagues college campuses across the country: sexual assault. But he shows that sexual assault is much more than frat boys raping drunk girls, as the stereotype goes. It even happens among the most established and selective groups of people.

It seems the thought of Harvard students’ supposed superiority is intrinsically embedded into our minds. It’s true that Ivy League schools harbor some of the most forward-thinking and innovative people of their times, but a great deal are also affluent, self-entitled individuals who see the world as their oyster.

Stepping onto the Dartmouth campus when I was younger, I had a good feeling about the people there. In the middle of Hippie Town, USA, where there were more bikes than cars, it was no surprise to me that these were some of the most highly regarded students and scholars in the country. But then I found out Dartmouth was dealing with a flurry of controversy over sexual assault, and the administration’s neglective nature in handling the issue.

Superb education and privilege don’t mean that Ivy League students are worthy of the praise that they immediately receive. Excuses for sexual assault are coming from the supposed elite and high classes. Maybe our automatic association of Harvard students as students with more knowledge and power is ill-conceived.

And these ideas don’t stay within these organizations; they translate into the “boy’s club” mentality in the workforce — the same mentality that perpetuates sexual assault and harassment.

With the help of groups like Harvard’s Porcellian Club, Dartmouth’s Sphinx Club and Princeton’s Ivy Club, the same entitlement these men had in college is one they can establish for the rest of their lives. Men like Storey should remind us that blue blood lineage is no promise of competence or decency.

Isabella is a freshman in ACES.

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