Recently, a supporter of Rep. Earl Ehrhart’s campus rape cover-up bill told a room full of rape survivors that “the trauma of going through a false accusation…is not unlike the trauma someone experiences when they’re raped.”
Ehrhart himself then backed up these horrifying statements by telling survivors that “this is a macro-aggressive environment. If you feel triggered, trigger somewhere else.”
Both statements are antagonistic and aggressive, designed to “put rape victims in their place.” The entire conversation smacks of the “men’s rights” (READ: misogynistic) rhetoric that unfortunately seems to have become even more common in recent years.
State Rep. Earl Ehrhart and his supporters are not trying to improve the system by which sexual assault is handled on college campuses — they’re trying to silence sexual assault victims and protect and empower those accused of sexual assault.
Ehrhart has a history of attacking rape survivors and protecting those accused of rape. In 2015, after the AJC published their findings that students accused of sexual assault at Georgia Tech were almost always found responsible, Ehrhart started speaking publicly about changing the way sexual assault is handled on college campuses. He claimed he was “provoked” by the article.
In March 2016, Ehrhart started trying to use his position as chair of the House committee that funds Georgia universities to manipulate how Georgia Tech handles their sexual assault allegations. Using the case of a student who was found responsible of sexual assault, appealed, then was found responsible again, Ehrhart called for a change in administration.
When Georgia Tech didn’t make the change he wanted, he denied their request for money to expand their library and defended his decision by saying, “taking away a $47 million Taj Mahal (referring to the library expansion) is not going to harm the students.” Ehrhart was clearly punishing Georgia Tech for their vigilance against sexual assault.
When his manipulation in Georgia didn’t accomplish his goal, Ehrhart filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Department of Education on behalf of those accused of sexual assault. This was the third time in a year that he publicly prioritized the rights of accused rapists over victims.
Not only does Erhhart’s bill directly conflict with federal laws, such as Title IX, it protects those accused of sexual assault and silences victims. It makes college campuses less safe. It perpetuates victim blaming.