(This commentary uses the word “womxn,” a variation of spelling “woman,” to be more inclusive of trans and nonbinary women.)
When the Salt Lake Tribune’s article detailing Utah State University’s lack of support offered to female students in the wake of sexual assault, we, as womxn, students, and elected officers, were disappointed and disgusted.
But the news of our university’s lack of support was not shocking — it is the reality of the world we live in. Although our university’s student population is currently 55% womxn, the lack of representation, advocacy and action for us is blatantly apparent.
During our time as students and representatives of the student body, we’ve all experienced and witnessed numerous accounts of discrimination and assault because of our gender. From stalking and groping to the discrediting of our ideas and insincere placation, our reality as womxn is terrifying, and the university’s attitudes toward our plight have only reinforced our situation.
Utah has been ranked last for womxn’s equality for four years and counting. Most would hope that the predominant culture in Utah would cultivate an accepting and safe atmosphere for womxn, but our reality is often the opposite. We are told to stay silent as our oppressors abuse us and treat us like objects. Womxn are not safe at USU.
Our institution’s failure to take immediate action on the numerous cases throughout the years is disheartening. Turning a cold shoulder to the accounts of faculty and staff blatantly disrespecting and abusing womxn is unacceptable.
The current administration is failing to make the necessary efforts, such as bolstering current services, fully investigating cases and claims, and committing to protect victims and punish perpetrators, to ensure the safety of all womxn at USU.
We are no longer able to stay silent and watch our university cover up and hide these stories. As womxn and student leaders, we vow to act. We are currently investigating and pursuing legislative action within the Utah State University Student Association to help protect womxn at USU. Every womxn has the right to feel safe on campus and utilize the resources that truly advocate for us.
Womxn of USU, your voices and presence are valued. We will not stop fighting until you feel safe and supported at our institution.
Meridian Wappett is a Utah State University Student Association senator from the Quinney College of Natural Resources.
Chloe Christopher is a USUSA senator from the College of Education and Human Services.
Emilee Harmon is the USUSA vice president for organizations and campus diversity.
Celeste Rodriguez is a USUSA senator from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.