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University of Michigan: Don’t Further Traumatize Survivors of Sexual Assault
The University of Michigan has shown that it stands against survivors of sexual assault: In its new sexual misconduct policy, survivors will be forced to undergo live cross-examination by their assaulter. As a University of Michigan student, I feel betrayed by my institution and scared for my fellow students. This new policy forces survivors of sexual assault to sit through a cross-examination conducted by their alleged assaulter, despite the fact that the university is well within its legal rights to require an advisor or attorney to lead the cross-examination instead. Even Betsy DeVos’s proposed Title IX regulations forbid the victim and alleged perpetrator from directly cross-examining each other. In criminal and civil court, cross-examination is always conducted by lawyers, but the University of Michigan has decided that it’s above the law. Will you add your name to show the University of Michigan that cross-examination should always be conducted by an advisor instead of an alleged assaulter? The implications of this policy are almost unimaginable. I was raped, and being forced to see my rapist is my biggest fear. Having him question me. Having him use his words to stab me. Having him tell me it’s my fault that he hid in my apartment until I was all alone. My fault that he bullied me into downing a bottle of liquor to the point where I was in and out of consciousness. My fault that he carried me into the bedroom and hoisted my body onto a bunk bed. This is too much to ask of any victim of sexual assault. As the complainant in a non-Michigan Title IX case, I understand the emotionally taxing process victims goes through. I am forced to relive my experience over and over again as I sit through hours of questioning by lawyers and investigators. When I filed a police report, I never expected to be dragged through a process that would snowball into over seventy-six arduous weeks of legal work. This process is hard enough without a policy that further traumatizes survivors. In college alone, nearly thirty percent of women are sexually assaulted. Only four percent of survivors report the attack. There is no doubt that the University of Michigan's new sexual misconduct policy will further decrease the number of victims that step forward. Sign to tell the University of Michigan that cross-examination should be conducted by an advisor instead of an alleged assaulter. Unless they make a change to this cruel policy immediately, U of M will be known as an institution that silences survivors.