The Politics of Sexual Violence on CCU Campus, in SC, and Nationwide

  • by: Keira Williams
  • target: Coastal Carolina University Administration and Senator Tim Scott

Zero. That’s the amount of input that the Coastal Carolina University campus community has in the choice of graduation speaker.

One. That’s the number in every four women who will be abused by their intimate partners.

Two. That’s South Carolina’s national ranking in the number of women killed by men. It’s also the number of times that Senator Tim Scott, CCU’s 2013 graduation speaker, has voted against the Violence Against Women Act, thus demonstrating a thorough lack of sensitivity towards and comprehension of the national epidemic of sexual violence and intimate partner abuse.

How can Coastal Carolina University maintain a commitment to preventing sexual violence while honoring a politician who has blocked legislation to that effect?

I am protesting the choice of Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) as the 2013 graduation speaker at Coastal Carolina University. I have three suggestions:

First, the CCU administration should rescind the plans to award Senator Scott an honorary “Doctor of Public Service” degree. The 1.3 million women who are victims of assault by their intimate partners each year most likely do not feel as if Scott has rendered services, and for the dozens who are murdered in domestic-violence related incidents each year in this state, it is too late. And in an era in which many universities are under scrutiny for their handling of sexual assault, what message does this honorary degree send to victims of sexual violence on CCU’s campus?

Second, no official announcement of the chosen graduation speaker was made to the campus community. Why not? The CCU administration should strive for less political maneuvering and more transparency and consider faculty, staff, and student input in the choice of graduation speakers, the awarding of honorary degrees, and the official punishment of sexual assault and discrimination on campus.

Finally, Senator Scott needs to rectify his ignorance about the issue of sexual violence and intimate partner abuse by meeting with the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault to discuss the prevalence of this problem in his home state.

Please join me in holding our senator and the administration of one of our state’s major educational institutions accountable to the victims of sexual violence in South Carolina.

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