Alex Lim’s recently announced sentence after pleading guilty to six accounts of unauthorized video recording in response to having been discovered responsible for placing a camera in a female student’s shower during the 2014-15 academic year has resurrected what may be for some an uncomfortable and hidden away memory. We, the Wheaton College Christian Feminist Club Presidents spanning from 2014 through this academic year, would like to remind and encourage our community of some important values and charges at this time.
The fact that we are one of the safest college campuses in the country is not lost on us. As women, we are incredibly thankful for the safety and respect we, for the most part, find here. However, we must not allow ourselves to think this means the evils of the world do not exist here. Though we may preach Imago Dei and condemn sexual assault, and although incidents of sexual assault may be rare in our community, the attitudes and behaviors that contribute to rape culture pervade our campus all the same.
Alex Lim’s actions cannot be taken as an isolated incident with a few isolated persons. He was part of our community and part of a culture that we all operate in and perpetuate; while many students may say, “I could never do that,” we would challenge you to take a deeper look at yourselves. It is not enough to condemn sexual violence and violation, we must condemn the associated activities and beliefs that communicate women are objects, that women have less value, that women are for men’s pleasure and taking. We must condemn the activities and beliefs that may seem isolated and innocuous (such as pornography or sexist jokes) but that can escalate to the physical, emotional, or mental violation of a brother or sister.
Those of us who have the luxury of putting this in the past and moving on must refuse to do so. We must stand in the kind of embodied solidarity with victims of sexual assault – like those targeted by Alex Lim – that prevents us from simply putting this in the past, and recognize that lives have been altered, souls scarred. We, as a community, must move forward together, must work harder together, must mourn and repent together. Lim’s actions also served to remind all the campus’ female students, his indirect targets, that even here there are people in our classes, sitting next to us in chapel, or playing board games in our apartments who could seek to do us harm.
We must lean into the tough conversations of how to handle these incidents in our most trusted spaces, asking ourselves and God what it means to have compassion for a brother or sister who violates another while still seeking appropriate justice and healing. We must lean into the call to hold one another accountable and safe.
Ellie Roth, club president 2016-17. Cosigned by Jordan-Ashley Barney and Krista Pederson (club presidents 14-15), Esther Kao and Katie Thornton (club presidents 15-16), and MacKenzie Kennedy (co-president 16-17)