A word from Camille Botello, the reporter behind the sexual assault series

Camille Botello

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Editors Note: The Linfield Review published a series of stories addressing sexual assault on the Linfield campus. These stories were investigated over a six-month period in the 2019-2020 school year by senior TLR reporters. The series was recently recognized by the Student Press Law center for its ambition in uncovering sexual misconduct.

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During my time as news editor at the Linfield Review, I followed a series of stories, that led to a much larger one, about alleged mistreatment of sexual assault and misconduct survivors at Linfield College. 

I couldn’t have been older than about 8 years old the first time a grown man, in a slight way, tried to take advantage of my body. When I was 8, I didn’t know the intricacies of the differences between right and wrong, but I knew the way he touched me more closely aligned with the latter. When I was 19, a man disguised his desire to see my body exposed with an offer for a free professional photo shoot. When I was 20, an ominous text message from an unknown sender threatened to reveal sensitive images of my body. I was 20 years old working in a restaurant the first time a grey-haired customer peered up from his empty whiskey glass and told me he wanted to touch my body. And so many others among me have suffered far more. 

You see for many of us, especially many of us women, we start getting objectified from the time we’re in early elementary school. We become hostages of a system that fosters and perpetuates the notion that boys will be boys, and when they want to sexually threaten you, they most likely will. It’s just engrained their physiological archetype. 

And that’s how many Linfield students continue to feel right now— that this cycle can’t even be threatened at an institution in which we elect to pay upwards of $200,000 over four years. We feel as though, once again, the system we’ve (literally) bought into is failing us. 

And it doesn’t matter that the Board of Trustees supports its chairman, or that the chair regrets not keeping a closer eye on one of his colleagues in the presence of a student. It doesn’t matter that Title IX prohibits investigators from divulging identifying information until there is evidence that someone is guilty of sex-based discrimination. It doesn’t matter that according to Oregon law, non-penetrative acts don’t fall under criminal sexual misconduct. 

What matters is what we’re saying, and what we’re saying is that we’re scared. 

Linfield, which many of us love(d) and are (were) proud of, should have a moral obligation to protect its students from sexual predators and be proactive in changing the culture of patriarchal power. And Linfield should do so even outside of the confines of the law. The school prides itself on integrity, critical thinking, and the commitment to empowering the underprivileged. And if this doesn’t include ensuring students are safe from unwanted sexual advances— especially those from senior Board members— then Linfield isn’t the institution I thought it was. 

These girls have cried out to us, everyone we’ve interviewed. They have taken hours out of their days to relive some of the most horrific experiences of their lives with us: strangers. They undid and redid the bandages of their wounds willingly in an attempt to seek any small amount of justice. 

And whether or not anyone in particular is to blame for the outcome of their cases, their stories tell us how they feel.  

As a reporter I was compelled to share these stories. It wasn’t easy. I lost sleep, I cried, I felt sick to my stomach, I paced my room, and I had visceral nightmares, because first and foremost I’m a human. I’m a woman who just graduated from Linfield. And while I was interviewing for, researching and writing these stories, I couldn’t help but feel like that 8-year-old girl again: the building’s lights suddenly darker, a looming presence standing behind me, and his sinister silence while he touched me. 

Students are angry, yes. But it’s because they’re scared. That’s a feeling that need not be based on data nor statistics.We’re crying out because we care, and want Linfield to be better for all current and future students. We want to one day look back fondly on this time in which a cultural shift toward security and equity started to unfold. We want to be proud of the school we went to. 

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Camille Botello

Linfield College Class of 2020 

BA Journalism & Media Studies

BA Spanish Language