An open letter to Dr. Betty Young and the Athens Messenger:

This letter has been written and rewritten, it has been screamed, it has been yelled, and it has been cried. As a survivor and a journalist I couldn’t bear to let another voice be smothered.

In late June I stood speechless, in shock and utter dismay at the news that Trent Mays would play football for Hocking College in the fall. My heart sank and my body froze. I attend Ohio University and I survived a sexual assault similar to the one that Mays committed. My assailants, star basketball players. My town, basketball fans at all costs. My perpetrator, convicted. My assault occurred not long after the Steubenville assault. In early October of 2012, I lay crying, helpless in my bed as the athlete assaulted me. The news that a perpetrator much like my own was embraced and allowed to enter the playing field again devastated me.

Dr. Young, I must ask if you considered survivors in your decision to allow Mays to represent the college football team. I understand you advocate for second chances. I believe the logical second chance for Mays would be to allow him to attend college, not to hold his hand as he returns to the pedestal he once stood on. Playing football and putting himself back in the position in which he once felt he was powerful enough to drag around a young woman’s unconscious body and rape her is not positive change.

What about all of the survivors at Hocking College? Attending your college was very likely their second chance at normalcy. Their peace has been shattered as a rapist walks among them. You have individuals on your campus and in your community who have survived horrid crimes. You have students who have PTSD who have come to college to have a future and yet you have taken a platform defending a rapist’s right to represent your football team. You have neglected to consider all of the survivors that walk among you, that placed their trust and their safety in your hands. Meant to be treated like the rest, a mass email was sent out notifying the community of his attendance. Heads were turned and Mays was back in the spotlight like a local celebrity.

Survivors of the Hocking community have been robbed of their second chance as the new face of the football team has been embraced with open arms. Any survivor who has read that the president of a university is fighting for the rights of a rapist has been robbed of their second chance.

As survivors, every single day there are triggers. You have given us just one more. However, you have given this trigger another jersey, another pedestal, more media, more power.

Mr. Arkley:

Your piece on Mays’ second chance has me physically sick. You fail to mention that Mays is a convicted rapist until paragraph six. What happened to the inverted pyramid? Is it not pertinent information to your readers that the man you are interviewing is only being interviewed because he is a rapist?

You go on to inform your readers that Mays apologized to everyone involved. His apology was, “I would like to apologize to her family, my family and the community. No pictures should have been sent around let alone even taken. That’s all sir.” That is an apology for taking pictures, not an apology in any way for raping a young woman.

You wrap up your insensitive piece by referring to Mays as “the most notorious member on their roster” again glorifying the rapist.

Sincerely,

Tristen Phipps

If you wish to reach out to Dr. Young or Mr. Arkley I encourage you to email them and share your opinion on their decisions to stand by the new face of Hocking College, Mr. Trent Mays, convicted rapist.

youngb@hocking.edu

jarkley@athensmessenger.com

EDITOR’S NOTE: The author’s original statement in regards to “lack of empathy” indicated that Arkley implied that the town suffered from a lack of empathy. In fact Arkley was indicating that the accused lacked empathy on the night in question. This is a revised version of the letter as of 8.26.15 at 1:11 p.m.

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