Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Remember their stories

(Collegian file photo)

I think the most disturbing part of this was how easy these people were to find; every girl I interviewed pointed me to a friend, or a friend of a friend, who had experienced something similar. Young women on college campuses are constantly at risk.

Writing down these accounts, transcribing my notes from the conversations I had, was difficult. I saw their faces while they told me what happened. You don’t have to look them in the eyes, but please, remember their stories.

CONTENT WARNING: The following accounts of sexual harassment/assault may be disturbing to some readers. Please note that all names have been changed to protect the students’ identities.


Amy tells me what happened to her over Keurig-dripped coffee in her Southwest dorm. She shows me photos of her forearm, pale and bruised, from her overnight stay in the hospital and the IV which left its mark on her dehydrated veins. She’s a freshman, a willowy Political Science major with wispy blonde hair and long fingers that wrap tightly around her mug. At a frat party, Amy nursed a Blender Bottle of vodka and ginger ale until someone offered her a beer. She accepted and almost immediately after drinking it, she started to experience tunnel vision. Rushing to the bathroom, she grabbed her friend by the arm and dragged her to the bathroom, where she slumped against the wall, knees knocking and tried to stay upright. She found her way outside, still clutching her friend’s wrist, and knelt on the asphalt, trying to make herself vomit. Her friend called an ambulance. When Amy woke up the next day, she didn’t know where she was. As it turns out, the girl who called the ambulance didn’t even know who Amy was—she just knew something was wrong.


Ella was, in her words, assaulted by a friend (I’m sitting on the bed where it happened. Her sheets are patterned with little blue and grey clouds. Ella never looks me in the eyes). They were alone at the end of the semester after Ella’s roommate had gone home for break, drinking vodka out of a water bottle. He got drunker than she did and they kissed for a while. Ella said she wasn’t interested in doing anything sexual, but he insisted, and it hurt when he did it anyway. She pushed him off, eventually, and they went to Late Night at Berk. He apologized, but she’s not sure she forgives him.


Hallie can’t remember if he wore a condom.


Grace can’t seem to get away from him. Mercifully, he lives around the corner and not directly down the hall, but he still finds ways to get her alone. One night, he trapped her between himself and the door of a friend’s room, where her roommate was waiting for her. “We could [have sex] while she’s in there,” Grace says he told her, after which she fled to her room and locked the door. He continues to send her unsolicited pictures via Snapchat, even after she tells him to stop and that she’s not interested.

Lily says it took awhile, but he got the message. She lives downstairs from Grace, meaning she exists within his sphere of influence. They met at a party, exchanged information, and he asked her a lot of personal questions over the phone: did she want to see him naked, when would they sleep together, was she a virgin? Lily told him she wasn’t interested and ignored his messages, but he persisted. One Saturday night, she stayed in sick and put this on her Snapchat story, complete with the feverish emoji with a thermometer in its mouth. He invited himself down to her room, but Lily didn’t let him in. He stood outside, knocking on the door, until she threatened to call someone to tell on him.


Anna didn’t know how drunk he was. In her statement to University of Massachusetts administration, which she showed me, she mentioned that he’d had a few beers. Things Anna also said in her statement: he is physically larger than she, he kissed her without asking, he pushed her into giving him oral sex and he coerced her into letting him penetrate her. She said she didn’t want to. She still dreads seeing him. She never consented.

If you made it this far, thank you. Anyone willing to educate themselves is part of the solution. Remember this next time you’re at a party, or in you room or on the street, and you think something might be wrong. I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s time we all started.

Sophie Allen is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]..

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