Open Letter from Mount Holyoke Student

Dear President Martin,

I’m sure you’ve received plenty of backlash, both in public and in private, in regards to the culture of sexual violence that has been so prevalent at Amherst College throughout its history. I, a Mount Holyoke student, write to you to tell you I am truly beyond appalled at your administration’s lack of an appropriate response to this issue. In fact, more than your lack of appropriateness, I am appalled at the events brought to light in an op-ed by Angie Epifano that was published in The Amherst Student on Oct. 17, 2012.

For your administration to not only ship this survivor of sexual assault off to a psych ward, but to absolutely destroy her time at Amherst, is incredible. Epifano details being disallowed to study abroad, being told not to complain about her circumstances at Amherst and being treated both like a prisoner and someone who had completely lost touch with reality. On the contrary, Ms. Epifano has more sanity than members of your staff who dealt with her. Really? Punishing a student for being raped? As a sexual assault survivor and a sexual assault crisis counselor, I thought I had heard it all, but this story truly shocked me. How can we live in a world where other women are fundamentally misunderstanding and mistreating other women this way? How can you allow men on your campus to run amuck with absolutely no punishment? How can you let your administration treat survivors with such disrespect? I find your administration’s dealings with sexual assault more repugnant than Ms. Epifano’s rapist himself. That should mean something to you.

You, as a woman charged with protecting a student body and making sure those students take care of and respect each other, should be ashamed. I will never return to Amherst’s campus again, and I can say the same of many other Mount Holyoke women. Your administration has some serious work to do, and I recommend you stop sweeping this issue under the rug for good.

– Ali Safran