Over 200 stories of sexual violence within the Binghamton University community have been posted on @shareyourstorybing, an Instagram account which has gained over 5,000 followers in less than a week.
The account made its first post on June 27, detailing its mission and guidelines for story submission. According to the post, the account is run by survivors of sexual violence who plan to keep their identities anonymous. They do not claim to be affiliated with any club or organization in the BU community.
“This account will be used as an anonymous and confidential platform for survivors at [BU] to share their experiences with sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic abuse, Office of Student Conduct experiences, Greek life/club/sport experiences, reporting experiences, [University Counseling Center]/[Consultation, Advocacy, Referral and Education] Team experiences and anything else pertaining to survivorship at [BU],” the post read.
The bio on the account’s page contains a link where survivors can submit their stories anonymously through a Google document. When a survivor’s story is posted, the first picture is a trigger warning listing the topics recounted in their story such as rape, sexual assault, drugging, nonconsensual pornography and alcohol abuse.
Although some of the stories do not name abusers, resident assistants, faculty members and members of unrecognized and University-recognized Greek life organizations have all been accused of sexual violence. The allegations range from assaults perpetrated by individuals to group chats where nonconsensual pornography was distributed.
Alexandra Miranda, WSU’s president and a junior double-majoring in human development and Latin American and Caribbean Area studies, said the WSU acknowledges and praises each survivor’s bravery in sharing their story, whether it is for personal healing purposes or to call for reform regarding BU’s culture of sexual violence.
“The survivor speak-out serves as a cathartic outlet for survivors to seek support and is also a chilling reminder that sexual assault does not exist in the abstract, it happens here,” Miranda wrote in an email. “When I first came across @shareyourstorybing, it was eerily similar to our survivor speak-out, only now survivors are able to spread their story to a much larger audience of students, staff and community members. This forces them to face the harsh reality that not only does sexual assault happen at [BU], but that the University perpetuates a misogynistic culture that continuously puts students in danger.”
The University’s Instagram account is tagged in every survivor story post, featuring additional tags from BU students’ comments. The University administration released a statement through a comment on one of @shareyourstorybing’s posts from July 1. The statement also provided a link where survivors can submit their stories through the University.
“Binghamton University takes reports of sexual violence very seriously and investigates them immediately,” the statement read. “No student in the Binghamton community should ever have to experience sexual assault, and we will continue to cultivate and expand our education and prevention efforts to ensure the safety of all students.”
The @shareyourstorybing account replied to the University’s comment in an Instagram story, stating it was contrary to survivors’ experiences.
“[BU’s comment] shows that they didn’t read about the countless women who did report their instances, and were shut down,” the post said.
In a July 3 B-Line Addition, BU President Harvey Stenger acknowledged the survivors’ stories and announced that the Division of Student Affairs will review how the University handles sexual assault, starting with Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life.
“I’ve read the stories, I hear you and I am committed to making real progress to put a halt to any sexual assaults within our community and commit that all Binghamton University offices will continue working with all students to make them feel heard and supported and to encourage students to report incidents,” Stenger wrote. “This is our promise to you: We will continue to work to change the culture on our campus and be responsive to victims of sexual assault while listening to everyone and helping those who seek support.”
The B-Line also explained how the Office of Student Conduct (OSC) currently deals with sexual assault allegations. Since Aug. 2017, 63 students have been accused of sexual violence and brought before the OSC through their current procedure. 45 of those students were charged by the office. Of those 45, 36 were found responsible for the allegations and received some form of punishment.
Additionally, Stenger noted the reinstatement of the 20:1 program, a freshman orientation program designed to educate students on sexual assault. The program was set to be removed in February, but was reinstated after many complaints were voiced against its retraction.
The @shareyourstorybing account has inspired people to take matters into their own hands. In response, Rachel DiSibio, ’20, started an online petition on Change.org to hold sexual violence perpetrators accountable at BU. DiSibio wrote in an email that she hopes the petition will show support for survivors and lead to changes in the way the University handles sexual assault cases.
“I think this account is so incredibly powerful,” DiSibo wrote. “The community of support and trust the account is creating is something I, and many other survivors, have never experienced. To be not only believed, which is already rare, but then supported, acknowledged and loved is a gift that the @shareyourstorybing creators have bestowed to all survivors of sexual assault.”
Powerful United Ladies Striving to Elevate (P.U.L.S.E.) issued a statement on their Instagram page on July 3 demanding action from the University. The demands include a written apology to the survivors, a mandatory four-credit course on the issues highlighted by @shareyourstorybing and an investigation by BU into the allegations raised by @shareyourstorybing.
“What is this institution doing for these survivors on campus?” P.U.L.S.E. wrote in the statement. “We demand action from this university, you owe it to us: the students that pay your salary, the survivors that have to live with the trauma that they endured at your university for the rest of their lives.”
Some Greek life organizations have responded to the allegations of sexual violence. Nu Alpha Phi stated in an Instagram post that the member accused on @shareyourstorybing has been suspended from the organization and is pending further review. The post expressed support for @shareyourstorybing, as well as other accounts like it, and announced the fraternity’s plan to combat sexual violence in its organization.
“We encourage any victims who have been sexually harassed by any of our members to communicate to us, so we can properly hold these members accountable as well,” the post said. “It is our promise to respect your privacy as we are only seeking to help you recover and bring justice. We want to hear, see and believe you.”
However, Miranda said she does not think statements from fraternities are enough.
“Statements released by Greek life institutions are nothing more than poor attempts to salvage the reputation of the organization as well as its members,” Miranda wrote. “Fraternities and sororities are institutions that were founded on and knowingly uphold the patriarchy and enable rape culture. The best thing Greek life could do to ensure the safety of all students and survivors would be to disband.”
Even if Greek life organizations were successfully disbanded, Miranda said rape culture will only end if people stop “normalizing” predatory behavior and continue to hold perpetrators accountable for sexually violent acts they have committed.
“Many people feel an allegiance to their friends, brothers or members of their organization to an extent in which they cannot correct or call one another out for fear of ‘betrayal,’” Miranda wrote. “However, creating a safer community cannot be achieved unless we address misogyny in our own social circles. We must hold ourselves and those around us accountable for our actions, educate ourselves about the intersectionality of rape culture and advocate for survivors.”