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News ::
A campus struggle continues
20 Feb 2002
Modified: 23 Feb 2002
Updates on the Kristin Roslonski story. Kristin was a BU student who says she was raped in her dorm, and then punished more than her assailant by the university.
"It just seems unbelievable to me that BU would use testimony from a rape victim against her," said Steve Henessy. Kristin Roslonski had just been denied an appeal to have alcohol violations dropped from her record, which currently prevent her from returning to BU.

Henessy is one of the lawyers representing Kristin, who recently filed a Title IX discrimination complain with the Department of Education against Boston University, and has since threatened a $1.4 million lawsuit.

The DOE would not comment on the progress of the investigation. Kristin is barred from taking further legal action against the school until the investigation is finished.

That?s fine with her. "I just started the semester," said Kristin, "I didn?t even have to deal with it." After the media circus of last semester, including an article in this paper ("Laughter and Rage at BU," SU#35), she welcomed the relative quiet.

The details of the case are well known to most literate members of the BU community: Kristin claimed another student had raped her with a vibrator while she was extremely drunk, took her complaint to the school, and was later found guilty of sexual assault and alcohol violations, while the boy she says assaulted her received no punishment. In a case that once seemed capable of shaking the entire administration, this latest development has made relatively little news around campus.

The only recent mention of her case was in a recent column in the Daily Free Press. Eddie Ciminelli wrote about his sympathy for the victims of rape whose stories he read at the Women?s Center?s "Clothesline Project." He found little in common between Kristin and what he had read.

"Ms. Roslonski," he wrote, "if you won?t drop this lawsuit to save yourself and your family any further embarrassment, do it for the young ladies who have truly suffered and those you cowardly stand behind and claim to represent."

"That just totally discouraged me," said Jamie Ceretti, Women?s Center President. Jamie said she feels like the whole school feels that way about Kristin; that she wasn?t really raped, that she doesn?t deserve anything. Despite the awareness the incident has raised, she said, most people see Kristin as someone who just screwed up and now wants other people to pay for it.

BU certainly feels that way. The administration, mostly through attorney Bob Smith, have repeatedly stated in the press that they conducted a thorough investigation, that there was no evidence of a rape, and that this is, in Mr. Smith?s words, "all about money."

But Jamie Ceretti and the Women?s Center have stood firmly behind Kristin.

"People have this preconceived idea of what rape is supposed to be," said Jamie. "But no one?s experience is exactly the same. Everything that happened to Kristin is totally encompassed in the [Massachusetts] definition of rape. The fact that she was drunk, the fact that it was a vibrator and not his dick, none of that changes the fact that she was violated."

Although Kristin did sustain injuries from the incident consistent with a violent sexual assault, Jamie said it was the psychological sense of violation that made what happened a serious crime. This was someone Kristin basically trusted, from a group of friends she assumed would protect her.

"Nobody wants to think that the one in her class is capable of raping someone," said Jamie. But she feels that breaking the myth that rape is something anonymous people do in dark allies at night is fundamental to rape education.

Next weekend, Jamie is bringing SAFER (Sexual Assault Factual Education for Resistance) to BU. SAFER is a national nonprofit group that trains activists to fight sexual assault through a variety of tactics, from public education campaigns to civil disobedience. She organized the event outside of the Women?s Center, but said it is consistent with the group?s projects.

Kristin has been less focused on proving that she was raped than on bringing the entire process by which BU investigates rape allegations under scrutiny.

Her appeal to the provost, which was just denied, is one example of what Kristin says is wrong with the process.

"I?m confident that [the DOE] will come up with some sort of finding that the school has been handling these cases wrongly," said Kristin. However, either way she expects to go ahead with her lawsuit. BU has focused on this fact in order to portray Kristin as greedy, rather than idealistic. But winning financial lawsuits is the only way, within our legal system, to truly force institutions to take responsibility for wrongs they?ve committed, said both Kristin and her lawyers.

The Women?s Center is holding a forum on Thursday, February 28th, to flesh out criticisms of the BU process and ideas for change. Several alumni who allege that BU mishandled their rape investigations in ways similar to Kristin?s will be among the speakers.

"I?m hoping that when we have this panel discussion and people see how long this has been going on, that they?ll see that it?s not just Kristin," said Jamie.

This Story originally appeared in the student underground. For more on Kristin Roslonski, check out:
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you forgot
21 Feb 2002
that BU has videotape of Kristin drunkenly exposing herself and making sexual advances to her alleged "assailant". It seems Kristin lives in a world where personal accountability no longer exists; because the boy she fooled around with doesn't want to date her, she now cries rape. Real rape victims cry foul.
not relevent
21 Feb 2002
I don't see how that's relevant. Since when is getting drunk and roudy a crime punishable by rape? I'd say whoever videotaped her deserves more scorn than she does in that completely unrelated incident, which happened before she had even met the guy who raped her.

Would you say that date rape isn't really rape because the girl was "making advances" by going out on a date? I've talked to Kristin extensively. She truly believes she was raped. Whether or not what happened to her (and remember, only two people really know what happened in that dorm room) fits some objective definition of rape is not the issue. The issue is that Kristin went to the school believing she was raped, and was further victimized by the school. Rape victims shouldn't be afraid to come forward because they were drinkning when it happened. Lots of people were drunk on Kristin's floor that night - why did only she get suspended.

The issue for me, in my reporting for the Underground on this story, has never been to prove Kristin was raped (although under Massachusetts law you can claim rape if you were intoxated, whether you said "no" or not), or to defend her actions that night. It has been to point out the serious flaws in BU's response to victims and the hypocricy of their internal judicial system.
well, duck
22 Feb 2002
I "believe" your comments are verbal assault. I truly feel victimized. See you in court.

Complete poppycock.
are you even listening?
23 Feb 2002
Obviously, just because Kristin says and believes she was raped doesn't mean this guy should be expelled and put in jail.

But to follow your analogy, imagine that you really did feel verbally asaulted by me, and went to the BU athourities to complain. Then imagine that they opened an investigation against YOU, found out all sorts of embarasing details about your life (which I'm sure exist) and used them to kick YOU out of school, while I was free to stay unpinished, to go on writing my leftwing "poppycock" newspaper, while you were out trying to find another school.

Whether or not you could prove in a court of law that I actually "verbally abused" you, you'd be pretty fucking pissed at BU, wouldn't you?

Again, for me this is not about Kristin and Stupid Fratboy X, it's about Kristin and the school, and more than that, about all the rape survivors who don't recieve support from the school.

To use another analogy, those of us who oppose the death penalty aren't interested in proving that every death row inmate is innocent; one can be against an abusive system without taing sides in individual cases.

But for the record, I think the fact that Kristin was unable to resist due to being drunk, and the fact that she had serious internal injuries, is some pretty strong evidence, which the school, and rape apologists like "hmmmm", would rather ignore.