During an annual convocation ceremony at HBCU Lincoln University, campus President Robert R. Jennings inferred that women had falsely accused men of sexual assault. “We have, we had, on this campus last semester three cases of young women who after having done whatever they did with young men and then it didn’t turn out the way they wanted it to turn out, guess what they did? They went to Public Safety and said, ‘He raped me.’ “
He also added, “Don’t put yourself in a situation that would cause you to be trying to explain something that really needs no explanation had you not put yourself in that situation.” This disturbing video has come to light nearly 2 months after the video was filmed.
While completely ignoring the statistics of sexual assault amongst women, particularly Black women, Jennings found a way to both victim blame and defy President Obama’s new campus sexual assault awareness campaign.
The White House Task Force to Prevent Students from Sexual Assault announced in April new actions college campuses should take to protect victims of sexual assault and rape.
In addition, The White House exposed over 55 colleges and universities under investigation for violating Title IX, which requires all schools to investigate all reports of rape and sexual assault. The list initially focused on Ivy League schools but this video revealed what most of have already known: Sexual assault is prevalent on ALL college campuses, including HBCUs and there is blatant disregard and cover-up of rape on college campuses.
This past September, President Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden also announced the “It’s On Us” campaign to include men in the fight against sexual assault. The aim of “It’s On Us” is to educate men on what they can do to help prevent rape and sexual assault.
Reactions to the video were mixed. Many parents and faculty of Lincoln University were outraged, while a few misguided others agreed with his message. Some parents have decided not to enroll their children in Lincoln University and I applaud them. You can’t put your child at risk by enrolling them at a University that isn’t committed to taking the proper steps in handling sexual assaults. If the President of the University is disregarding claims of rape, how can we expect administrators, professors and college law enforcement to also follow the law?
Although, sexual assaults on the campuses of HBCUs are typically lower than that of PWIs, it is important to not sweep their occurrences under the rug. His comments feed into the narrative that women (in his campus’ case, black women) are lying when they say they have been sexually assaulted. As the President of a University, Jennings’ first priority should be the safety of his students.
It is also not a coincidence that Jennings is addressing a group of young Black women. Black girl pain is often overlooked and ignored. The stereotype of the Black women jezebel is why two Black women can be found dead on the side of the road and the first response is “they shouldn’t have been strippers.” With occurrences like this happening to Black women across the United States, how can we expect to be safe on college campuses with rape apologists like Robert R. Jennings at the helm?
And speaking of apologies, Jennings has since apologized for his disgusting comments:
“It is obvious that I did not clearly communicate during a portion of September’s All Women’s Convocation,” Jennings said in a letter to the Lincoln community. “My message was intended to emphasize personal responsibility and mutual respect. I apologize for my choice of words. I certainly did not intend to hurt or offend anyone.”
Have we turned a blind eye to rape culture in the Black community? Sound off in the comments below.