COLLEGEVILLE (St. Cloud Times) — Almost 400 College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University students gathered in the heart of the St. John’s campus Thursday afternoon, missing class to show solidarity and demand action from administration after allegations of a ‘sex competition’ among some SJU students surfaced last week.
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An email sent to students Oct. 13 from the colleges’ vice presidents for student development said administration was informed in late September that several student residents of the first and second floors of St. Patrick Hall at St. John’s University allegedly competed “to see who could sleep with the most females” at the College of St. Benedict.
The colleges said in an email to students Tuesday that they have hired an external investigator to collect information about the matter.
In a statement issued in response to an inquiry from the St. Cloud Times, the schools said: “Violence or sexual assault against any student will not be tolerated and will be investigated thoroughly through our sexual misconduct policy. These cases may also be reported to local law enforcement for possible criminal charges. We are committed to creating and maintaining an environment in which all members of the community are aware of and respect the rights and human dignity of every other member.”
Members of the campus group Institute for Women’s Leadership led the walkout and sit-in on Thursday, and issued a petition earlier in the week to spread awareness about the allegations and “bring about change at both the student and administrative levels.”
Some of the demands in the petition include implementing mandatory Title IX, bystander intervention and safe-space training for resident assistants, as well as increasing the security presence on campus transportation and guaranteeing students transportation between campuses after the last bus runs “in order to ensure each student is able to get home safely.”
Other demands call for reestablishing the Men’s Development Institute with student employment funding and to require all St. John’s athletes, RAs and senators to participate in Men as Peacemakers BEST curriculum, a model for sexual assault prevention on college campuses.
A history of complacency
As a crowd gathered with signs near the Reef Entrance of the Quad, students led a prayer, chanted for change and spoke out.
Sadik said these allegations reflect a history of toxic masculinity and complacency at St. John’s and St. Ben’s.
“Some Johnnies allow their peers and friends to get away with these actions because it has nothing to do with them,” she said, which was met with cheers from the crowd. “Bennies have talked about how scared they feel walking alone at St. John’s University. Listen to these stories. Some of you might have these same thoughts as well.”
Students who are survivors of sexual assault and harassment told their own stories, as well as the lasting impact of the assaults on their lives and future relationships.
Several students said they hear St. John’s students talk about the alleged competition as a “game” or a “joke,” without acknowledging how triggering or demeaning that is for survivors and for St. Ben’s students as a whole. Others spoke about how St. John’s and St. Ben’s didn’t properly support them after their assaults and did not hold their abusers accountable. There were no counter protestors at the event.
Junior Addey Vochoska said she was angered to see administration email students about the allegations weeks after first hearing about them. She also said she felt like administration buried its announcement of the allegations in its Oct. 13 email by mentioning it only after announcements about rowdiness on weekend buses and vandalism on campus.
“Basically, if nobody wanted to read the email they wouldn’t have seen it,” she said. “If we didn’t make such a big deal about it, it wouldn’t have been known.”
Sydney Robinson, a College of St. Benedict alumna who works in the multicultural center, said students are tired of the idea that “boys will be boys” and are disappointed, but not surprised, to hear about the allegations.
“The main narrative that’s going around is that students are speaking up and holding them accountable,” they said. “And that’s more powerful than anything else.”
CSB/SJU community demands action after allegation of ‘sex competition’ among St. John’s students
St. Cloud Times
October 21, 2021