Wednesday morning, I awoke to Howard University's campus in a state of uproar. This is the tweet that set the campus off.
The news of the alleged rape spread like wildfire. Within the next 24 hours, Howard students had accomplished three things: unearthing shocking details in the story, taking action, and forcing action.
After this student shared her story on social media, she received responses from other students claiming to have been assaulted by the same student. Reports of his involvement in more cases surfaced from UCLA, where he was posing as a student. These cases resulted in his being banned from UCLA's campus.
It was no surprise to some that he was continuing his ventures at Howard University. Twitter was bombarded with claims of "he tried to rape me too," "I knew he was creepy," and "we should've reported him a long time ago."
A 2015 study published on CNN found that 1 in 5 college freshmen women were victims of rape. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, about 68 percent of sexual assaults go unreported to police and 98 percent of rapists will never spend a day in jail. As many victims do, the student who took to social media to report her rape waited two weeks because she felt ashamed.
Because of these alarming statistics, many students expressed a need to unite on behalf of those who were unable to speak up for themselves. Rape is a growing epidemic on college campuses, with a general consensus of about 20 percent of women being raped at some point.
This raised concern among Howard students, in regards to why an alleged rapist was roaming its campus with minor repercussions. He had lost his resident assistant position and been moved to an all-boys dorm, but is still free to roam. The student body organized on a list of demands on behalf of the victim.
Hundreds of students gathered in front of Howard University's College Hall South, the site where the alleged rape happened. The protest grew rapidly and eventually overtook the street and paraded down Georgia Avenue. Students also took to social media using the hashtags #TakeBackTheNightHU and #NoMeansNoHU. Students gathered a second time, later that night, in College Hall South's lobby on word that another student had physically assaulted and threatened the same victim because of rising tensions and his being accused of sexual assault.
Howard students garnered a large response, including tweets of solidarity from Spelman College and other Universities, other rape survivors, and mass news coverage. The University sent out a response to the student demands, most notably that background checks will be administered to resident assistants and anyone employed by the University. The University assures students that it is continuing its ongoing investigation of the case.
Lead Image Credit: Twitter, @shantimaya13
Update: As of March 27, a previous tweet included in this article had been deleted. It has been replaced with a screenshot.