Indiana Daily Student

LETTER: Sexual assault is a systemic issue at the Jacobs School of Music

Editor’s Note: This story includes mentions of sexual violence.

The handling of the Chris Parker allegations would sow distrust of the university in the heart of any survivor of sexual abuse, as it certainly did mine. As a result, I cannot imagine that the abuse that happens behind closed doors — whether they be doors to dorm rooms, green rooms or professors’ offices — will ever be fully exposed.

However, the university and the Jacobs School of Music must now be held accountable for its continued support of Chris Parker, whose celebrated presence in Jacobs and the Bloomington music community played a large part in silencing me when I was a student at Jacobs, suffering from sexual abuse which traumatized me to the point of being unable to continue pursuing my musical career.

I had few allies at Jacobs to begin with. I was bound to be an outcast among my more privileged white male peers, and that isolation made all the difference.

If I was already unable to advocate for myself as a nonwhite, non-male musician, how could I have ever advocated for myself as a victim of sexual assault? This is how a culture of privilege and exclusion necessitates a culture of violence; violence is the tool with which oppressive systems are built and maintained, and one such way that men maintain their dominance over women is sexual assault.

I was obviously struggling when I was in school, more often than not falling behind in my academic and musical responsibilities. None of my professors ever asked me if I was okay. If someone had offered an open ear, I doubt I would have trusted any of them enough to speak up considering Parker’s close relationship with most of the jazz studies faculty, but at least I wouldn’t have such hard feelings about it now.

How can an abuser receive so many chances at pursuing an education, while survivors like myself drop out? Does the university actually concern itself with ending sexual assault, or does it seek to preserve its own reputation above all else?

It is a futile and heartbreaking endeavor to seek justice from the system under which a crime was committed against you. Or, in the words of Fiona Apple, “Good morning, good morning, you raped me in the same bed your daughter was born in.”

My abuser has yet to suffer a single consequence for what he did to me, and in all likelihood he never will. I know my outlook may seem bleak to anyone just now opening their eyes to the truth. It’s not that I have no hope for justice — I’m simply seeking justice in organizing against the system. I know that through building community, the institutions which fail to protect us become obsolete. I write this condemnation with nothing but hope.

Healing is a communal act; I could never have done this without the support of my loved ones and other survivors I have met over the years, especially those I’ve met these past few months as we’ve rallied together for this cause. I wish all survivors peace, love, healing and the communal care you deserve, and hope my words serve to empower you in your pursuit.

In solidarity,

Abby Malala

A list of resources is available here if you or someone you know has experienced sexual harassment or abuse.

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