Courtesy of Wagatwe Wanjuki/Morea Steinhauer
Wagatwe Wanjuki was sexually assaulted by another student while attending Tufts University. But instead of punishing her attacker, the school asked her to leave.
Wanjuki, 27, is the woman behind the widely trending Twitter hashtag #SurvivorPrivilege.
According to the Huffington Post, Wanjuki took to Twitter shortly after the June 6 publication of George Will’s Washington Post editorial in which he decried the Obama administration’s focus on campus sexual assault and suggested that being a survivor of sexual assault has become “coveted status that confers privileges.”
“It was mind-boggling that someone would think there’s anything to gain by coming forward as a survivor,” Wanjuki told HuffPost.
Wanjuki first came forward about her assault in 2009. In 2008, she says, she was repeatedly assaulted by a fellow student she was in a relationship with. When she tried to report him to the administration, Tufts responded by telling her that their legal counsel said they didn’t have to take action. This occurred before the U.S. Department of Education made it clear (pdf) that universities are obligated under Title IX to respond to reported sexual violence.
Wanjuki became an outspoken advocate for survivors of sexual assault and worked with organizations such as Students Active for Ending Rape to push for reforms. During that time, her grades began to slip, though they were not low enough for her to be put on academic probation. Wanjuki believes that her grades were negatively affected by her assault and the lack of support she received from the Tufts administration.
HuffPost reports, “In summer 2009, the Dean of Undergraduate Education at Tufts, who Wanjuki said happened to be her assailant’s academic adviser, told Wanjuki she would have to withdraw from the university due to academic concerns. At the time, she was less than a year from graduating.”
Tufts did not respond to HuffPost’s inquiries about Wanjuki’s case.