This article was originally published in The Michigan Daily.
*This article will not capitalize the names that do not deserve respect. I will not capitalize the names of those who wish to capitalize off of others. These typed words will elevate those that have courageously continued to live and will let them rise above those that have tirelessly silenced the brave.
On Dec. 20, 2013, brendan gibbons, a football player, was "separated" from the University of Michigan due to rape charges that stemmed from a sexual assault occurring in 2009. No action was taken until Dec. 2013 when brendan gibbons had finished his university football career.
This past Sat., the University of Michigan experienced a football loss not just in terms of points, but also in terms of effective coaching. Lack of communication and understanding between the athletic director, dave brandon, and the head coach, brady hoke, led to the risk of impounding more injury onto a fellow football player.
In the following days, hundreds of students gathered to demand dave brandon's resignation and a petition was signed by 10,000 students in support.
However, no such outrage or mass action was taken against dave brandon or the football coaches when it was discovered that they covered up the rape of a fellow woman. This piece is my response to dave brandon, the protests that surround him, and the campus culture that allows the lives of Women to be ranked beneath football players and football wins.
It was not justice when brendan gibbons was "separated" from the university. It was an insult and a message imparted upon us by dave brandon and the institution behind him.
It was insulting like salt in our wounds. Justice has a timepiece ticking alongside it. It cannot be delivered too late -- after heartbreak and devastation have exploded and ashes have already settled. After our hearts begin to beat again with the slashes that were created. Justice and pardons cannot be given away as if they are "charitable" yet worn out summer clothes. For we are already entering fall, and short-sleeves do not keep strong arms warm. The timing of the "separation" was done at an insulting date. It was done years too late for the victim, but at a convenient time for the institution. Even the idea of a possible "separation" is insulting. I will continue to write it in quotes, because it is an offensive and painful notion that brendan gibbons can be "separated" from the lives he has affected.
It was a message as in mixed message
as in f****d up message
as in you don't matter message
as in your life doesn't matter message
as in Women's safety doesn't matter message
as in Women's sexuality is for the taking message
as in Women's livelihood doesn't have value message
as in Women's existence is there for men's pleasure message
as in Women are beneath the worth of filled football seats message
as in Women should be silenced so more trophies can be won message
as in covering up rape is not reason enough for a director's expulsion message
as in Women are there to respond (un)willing to the needs of football players message.
These insults and messages have been laid upon all university students. They have filled our backpacks and weighed us down. They have taught me and others the way Women are viewed by those more powerful. And they have taught me the value dave brandon and his institution imparts onto Women.
As this student body rapidly mobilizes to expel you, dave brandon.... I hope it doesn't.
Even though I desperately want you gone, dave brandon, I do not want you gone for the reasons others are chanting and petitioning. I do not want you to believe that you have disappointed us for risking more football wins and good games. I do not want you to think that it was football that mattered when it is the courageous lives of Women that mattered. I do not want your last steps on this corrupted field to be weighed down with the thoughts of how you let the game of football down.
I want you, dave brandon and this institution that stands behind you, to be forced away by the battle cry of Women erupting beyond the size of the big house. I want you to be permanently imprinted by the relentless strength and force that Women carry in their fingertips. I want you to never forget that your messages will not cripple our existence, because you, dave brandon, and you, this institution that upholds him, do not define Women.