When you study at a university you should feel safe. Every professor's number ONE goal should be ensuring ALL students feel safe. So what do you do when you don’t feel like you can trust the faculty?
As I have moved up in my degrees I have noticed more and more, and questioned more things in the music world, specifically academia. The mentor/mentee relationship is a very personal one. You are one on one with someone and you are there to learn and to grow as a person and musician. When someone violates that trust you lose the joy, the faith, and the strength that you once had. This can include both professors and teaching assistants.
One fear that so many victims have is that when they finally get up the courage to say something… no one will believe them, or worse, they do nothing about it. You just become another slip of paper on someone’s desk. You are told not to worry because either the TA or they themselves will graduate soon. You are told that it is a process and it is ongoing. No one wants to jump to conclusions and cause a scene.
Who are we to trust? When is it ok for a person with this authority to be in a relationship with a student? While they are their students? Before? After they graduate? The line of what is acceptable at a university gets moved from person to person and it leaves many of us concerned with our safety and the safety of our more emotionally vulnerable peers.
As a student, you hear professors saying they don’t think something is appropriate, but you don’t know what actions are actually being taken. Your mind starts to panic. Is this person preying on young kids too? Are they looking at me too much? How can I avoid them? Do they know that I know? Will they do something to me if I speak up?
Seeing students stiffen as a professor walks by makes you lose hope. Knowing that your colleagues choose a specific time to study to avoid TA’s makes you lose hope.
Fear in higher education is real. Students don’t deserve to have to include fear of predators in a school to their list of worries.