Editor’s Note: The content of this letter discusses sexual assault.
In a recent Letter to the Editor, Student Body President Michael Murphy attempts to be the voice of reason for this campus when in fact he lacks a basic understanding of the fear faced by countless women on college campuses today regarding the reality of sexual assault. Conveniently, his letter also ignores the argument upon which students’ desire for a blue light on Fraternity Row is centered around.
Regardless of how you feel about the effectiveness of blue lights, which Michael Murphy interestingly enough failed to provide any actual data on their use at UF (their use on other college campuses isn’t relevant unless UF suddenly relocated to Colorado, Nebraska, or Connecticut overnight) in his letter, it is an undeniable fact that they will make a significant portion of the female population at UF feel safer when walking down Fraternity Row. There is also no sound reason for there to be a gaping hole in the middle of campus devoid of blue lights, regardless of what street it is on. Those two reasons alone should be enough to justify the installation of a blue light on frat row. Unfortunately, SG has decided to play politics with this issue which really is just a matter of common sense.
It shouldn’t go without mentioning that it is bad politics and frankly a horrible look to have Michael Murphy, a white male, tell the entire student body that a blue light, which could very well prevent an instance of sexual assault before it takes place or allow a survivor who is in distress to receive the help they need, would be a “waste of money.” Of all the things to mansplain or put in terms of dollars and cents, sexual assault prevention isn’t one of them.
I find it curious that SG, which has never had a track record for being the most fiscally responsible organization on campus, has apparently decided to start penny pinching on an issue that concerns the safety of women on this campus. Let’s keep in mind that this is the same organization that funded a $2 million railing project at UF out of thin air years agoand also spent roughly $20,000 on their own end-of-the-year banquet.This money also came from SG funds which consist primarily of student fees. If Michael Murphy really wants to imply that the peace of mind of women on this campus when walking home at night isn’t worth as much as a barbecue catered SG banquet or railings at the Reitz Union, he’s entitled to his own opinion. I would just respectfully suggest that next time he think twice before sounding so tone-deaf on an issue that has affected and altered the lives of so many females on this campus.
Sexual assault on college campuses should never be talked about in terms of money wasted. Students’ desire for a blue light on frat row is about principle and the safety of people. It is not a political stunt and should not be characterized as such by the individual tasked with being the face of UF. At the very least I would ask Michael Murphy to not hide behind a letter to the editor in a newspaper and actually have conversations with students and demonstrate the leadership required from someone elected to his position regarding this issue. Because so far, leadership from this SG administration has been harder to find than a blue light near Fraternity Row.
Anthony Rojas is a UF political science graduate student.