[Trigger Warning: this article contains stories and discussion of sexual violence]
A new Instagram account known as @gu.truth was recently created and has been posting anonymous submissions by Gonzaga students.
The account first began posting on May 7, and the nature of the posts ranges from relationship gossip to general feelings about GU and its students among other topics of discussion on and around campus.
"I wanted to make a fun account where GU kids could share funny stories, secrets and fun stuff like that," said the account owner of @gu.truth, a junior at GU who asked to remain anonymous for this story to keep @gu.truth anonymous as well.
On May 15, the account published its first post with a content warning for sexual assault, violence, rape and abuse. The post included three anonymous narratives alleging sexual assault.
One of the narratives included in the post said that a student on campus has a history of violence and that this student raped the person who sent in the post. The person recounting their experience said in the post that they were victim blamed and silenced by GU’s administration.
“I will never see justice for what he did to me,” the post said.
Eric Baldwin, Gonzaga’s assistant vice president of student well-being and healthy living, said he is aware of the posts on social media that recount instances of sexual assault and violence within the GU community.
These posts on their own aren't enough for the university to reopen a case because they're still unidentifiable, but a student who has filed a conduct report with the university previously can have their case reevaluated if they ask for it or if new information comes to light, he said.
GU doesn't allow for the release of any personal information from reported cases on campus. The university can't disclose information on police investigations into matters concerning GU students because those reports are filed through the separate criminal justice system.
Baldwin said whether an issue of sexual assault, rape or abuse was previously filed or not, every student on campus has access to an anonymous resource through Lutheran Services — a third party that is not required by law to disclose findings of sexual assault to any central authority. Their purpose is to be a supporter of any student who has come under harm, and they can act as an advocate for those students if the student brings their case to central authorities, he said.
"If an individual wanted to talk with somebody that they could talk through their entire experience with that’s not associated with the university, that’s Lutheran Services," Baldwin said. "That individual is also trained as a sexual assault advocate; if something has fallen through the cracks or needs to be reevaluated, they would have that immediate advocacy to either come forward or come forward with somebody to say that [the university] needs to look at this again."
Baldwin said he wants to facilitate a discussion space for sexual assault victims, ambassadors and intermediaries to discuss with administration where the systems in place have broken down and where additional attention and education need to be placed.
However, Baldwin explained that anonymous reports of violence, abuse and rape through social media accounts like @gu.truth and @zagsspeakout — which focuses on sharing the stories of sexual assault survivors and fighting rape culture at GU — affect the degree to which the university can help students access the proper resources.
“People can engage in those difficult and very intense conversations [with us] and come out with something better than what they thought,” Baldwin said. “Everyone’s got blind spots, so what are the things we might have blind spots about?”
@gu.truth also commented and tagged @zagsspeakout on its May 15 post. The account suggested that those who shared the experiences share their stories with @zagsspeakout.
The next day, @gu.truth added another post, where the person who submitted it said it is sad how common stories of assault and the university not taking action are.
@gu.truth said it was glad to provide a safe space for sexual assault survivors to share their stories, although the account was not created with that intention.
The account creator said they received anonymous comments that some people do not want @gu.truth to turn into another Instagram page that focuses on sexual assault, but the account owner said they knew they had to post the reports, otherwise they would be silencing sexual assault survivors.
“I know too many Zags who’ve been hurt on this campus,” the owner of the account commented. “Change starts with us, all of us.”