To the student who came forward about Ashraf Youssef,
I see you, I hear you and I support you wholeheartedly. I cannot imagine the strength it took for you to speak about your experience, especially given your acknowledgement of Youssef’s popularity on campus. I am proud to attend a college that prides itself on being outspoken and progressive, but we have let you down if you felt that you would not be believed. It saddens me deeply that even at one of the most open-minded places in the world we still have so far to go in supporting our students. While I understand the hesitance of some to speak on this issue before a full report is out, this publication is not an anomaly in journalism and I’m glad our community has more information on the situation. Despite all of this, I am so glad that you did speak.
While reading the story, I couldn’t help but think about all the people in my life who are survivors of assault or harassment, and how alone the experience can make one feel. Survivors face intense barriers when seeking support because of societal factors like patriarchal structures, loss of social capital and fear of retaliation. It’s disappointing that our campus did not adequately address these inherent issues because it isolated you, one of our siblings.
I am so sorry that this happened to you. I’m sorry that you had to speak about it in a covert way. Yet most of all, I am sorry that you were not met with the overwhelming love and support that you deserve. I am incredibly disappointed that we could not better empathize with your situation. Despite this, the validity of your experience does not depend on your willingness to speak about it. I am not writing this to reignite anyone’s trauma surrounding assault or to preach.
I am writing this for all those who have chosen to speak out about their experiences with sexual violence and for those who have chosen to keep their experiences private. I hear you, I believe you and I admire your incredible bravery. I will always be here if you need support from a sibling here at Wellesley.
To the Wellesley community: If you are able to, please reach out and check in on your friends, teammates, classmates and peers over the next few days, if only to show those around you that you are here for them.
http://www.theadvocacycenter.org/ Hotline: 607-277-5000
https://www.rainn.org/ Hotline: 800-656-4673