Miss Fisk University Says She Was Sexually Assaulted By Student Leader, Calls Out Institution For Perpetuating Rape Culture

"[T]he University still fails to make victims of sexual assault feel safe," wrote Australia Say in an open letter.

Photo credit:Twitter

| March 27 2019,

6:10 pm

A student leader at Fisk University has penned an open letter accusing the college of upholding rape culture and is demanding a change.

Australia Say, who was named the 83rd Miss Fisk University, released a letter on Twitter directed at her school's administration about the prevalence of sexual assault on her campus.

HBCU Buzz reports the senior biology student detailed her alleged experience with sexual assault at the school and said the administration lackadaisically responded to her concerns regarding safety and comfort.

"On August 19, 2018, a fellow student leader sexually assaulted me," wrote Say. "After the assault happened, I did not know where to turn."

Say reported that she suffered from misplaced guilt and shame following the attack, like most victims. A friend reported the alleged incident for her. Following the investigation, Campus Safety ordered that no contact was to be had between Say and her assaulter, although the exact distance was unspecified.

Say said that she felt silenced and insignificant throughout the process, especially while in Atlanta representing the university during the Miss National Black College Hall of Fame Pageant.

"On October 11, 2018, I received correspondence stating that the case would be closed because there was not sufficient evidence to continue," Say continued. "Soon after receiving the news, my attacker started taunting me, coming within 5 feet of me and staring from across the cafeteria."

Say reported the student had been harassing her, but the university offered zero solutions, stating that since the case had been closed, there was nothing that could be done.

Less than a week later, the Tennessee institution released a campus-wide email that another student was sexually assaulted. 

"I felt as if there was nothing that could be done to keep me or others safe on the campus that I represented," Say expressed. "Knowing the school had let my case fall through the cracks and seeing that another assault happened, completely disturbed my spirit."

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Say added the school dropped the ball again when she requested that her reported assailant be banned from attending her coronation during homecoming. Say's plea was denied, but following a meeting with Fisk University's legal counsel, a 50-foot no-contact order was issued. Still, she says the administration seemed to take it lightly.

"We, as a University community, must start holding people accountable for their actions. Whether you have enough evidence, or not, there should be something in place to make students feel safe," Say wrote. She also noted that the institution houses a sexual assault center but "fails to make victims of sexual assault feel safe."

Say, who is also a youth leader in South Nashville, offered support to both men and women who have suffered similar experiences at their respective institutions.

"We cannot continue to let our attackers take our power or our voice from us. If no one believes what happened to you, I do. If you feel as if your voice is not enough, I can help you let your voice be heard. I am here to be a voice to the voiceless and fight for the women and men on this campus.

"#ThisEndsWithMe and I will no longer be silent," she concluded.

The letter Say posted to Twitter was met with an onslaught of support, with many stating sympathies for her experience and offering support.

"Thank you for sharing and opening eyes," one wrote.

"Standing with you, sis. Our HBCUs have to do better by us," wrote another.

"I don’t know you. But I stand with you!" a third responded.

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