For the past few weeks, the Colby community has been largely absorbed in a discussion about sexual assault on campus in response to allegations against several students. Other students have since come forward with tales of their own experiences with sexual assault.
Federal law prohibits Colby from releasing information regarding the details of the recent incident. However, an email from Colby students who were attempting to organize a protest at the Bowdoin-Colby football game states that the investigation involves members of the Colby team.
"The allegation is that certain members of the team watched an unsuspecting female student perform oral sex on the captain of the team in his room," the email states.
The same message explains that the victim of the alleged assault wrote to Colby student leaders asking them to encourage "students and faculty to pressure the football team and its coaches to better cooperate with the investigation."
The alleged voyeuristic violation of one woman's privacy is all the more jarring in a community that attempts to be as nurturing and inclusive as Colby does. Bowdoin is no different, and while the efforts of organizations like BMASV and Safe Space to fight sexual assault are highly visible, there were still seven forcible sex offenses on campus last year, according to the 2011 Clery crime report.
The incidents at Colby and Bowdoin underscore a need to continue fighting sexual assault on campus, but they are also opportunities to applaud the bravery of the students who came forward and the system that made them feel safe enough to do so.
For too long, sexual assault has been perpetuated through silence, with many students feeling too afraid or embarrassed to speak out. The way we respond to incidents of sexual violence defines our community; the incident at Colby serves as a reminder that there is still much to be done to ensure the safety and privacy of students on campus.
In order to move closer to a world in which sexual assault does not exist, we must first recognize that it does, eliminating the silence that allows assailants to feel that their crimes will go unpunished.
The editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient's editorial board, which is comprised of Nick Daniels, Carlo Davis, Linda Kinstler, and Zoe Lescaze.