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Students Attend Lecture On Rape

By Brian Loux


Members of the Class of 2006 attended a lecture yesterday morning on the topic of sexual abuse and rape prevention, and later participated in breakout discussion sessions with their Orientation leaders.

Katie Koestner, a victim of acquaintance rape her freshman year at the College of William and Mary, spent much of the lecture recalling the events preceding the sexual assault by her first college boyfriend. “Did you ever think that someone’s favorite thing would be recalling the worst night of her life?” she asked the audience.

After complaining to campus authorities, she said a dean issued a one-semester restraining order and expressed hope that the couple would get back together.

“I am satisfied for two reasons,” she said, “One, that dean is now fired, and two, the deans of your school care enough about your safety to bring me here.”

Throughout the talk, Koestner highlighted many of the responses from interviews with college students she met over the years. “One girl told me she always says no even when she does it because she doesn’t want to seem like a slut. I’d ask she change the definition of slut before she changes the definition of no.”

Near the end of the discussion, she addressed the males in particular: “I have little idea if I have persuaded you in any way,” she said. “If you feel that rape is wrong, what would you do to stop it?”

At the end of the talk, a man rose from his seat and said, “Thank you,” sparking a standing ovation.

Koestner was unavailable for comment after the speech.

Speech leads to discussion

After the talk, freshmen broke into their Orientation groups and discussed their reactions to what they had heard and what they consider to be rape.

“Everyone was definitely surprised by the intensity of the story,” said Orientation leader Emily T. Chi ’04. “Many people felt the story could happen to anyone.”

“The entire talk was very moving,” said Sisi Chen ’06. “I think I cried more than she did.” Many males interviewed also agreed that the speech was intense and powerful.

Some students took a harsh stance toward their absent colleagues. “I certainly feel that MIT should require every guy to hear this talk, and punish them if they do not,” said Victoria Lee ’06.

Tables were also arranged inside the Kresge Auditorium lobby with brochures about rape prevention and local hotline numbers mainly provided by the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center and MIT Medical.

Koestner also spoke at Orientation 2001’s discussion on rape.