Sexual Assault at Olin

At the end of last academic year, I surveyed all Olin students and alumni about their experiences with sexual assault. After two different students shared their experiences in Frankly Speaking [1], I wanted to learn more about how Olin students experience and relate to sexual assault and begin taking proactive steps to address the problem.

The Olin community perceives the “bubble” as a safe place, where students can leave laptops in the lounge or a $20 bill on someone’s whiteboard, because we look out for one another. For the most part, I’ve found this to be true. The numbers also support this notion; Olin’s published crime statistics consistently show that we have no campus crime, including sexual assault [2].

My three years at Olin have revealed to me that these numbers don’t tell the whole story. Sexual assault is a problem on every college campus, and unfortunately Olin is no exception. Like on many other campuses, many survivors of assault at Olin never report their experience, and those who do often choose quieter routes such as the Honor Board or OSL (which can provide no-contact orders). Because the student body as a whole doesn’t hear about cases of assault, there isn’t an overwhelming sense that’s it’s an important issue on our campus.

I want to change that.

The response rate for the survey was incredible: 233 current students (out of ~350) and 249 alumni (out of 585) completed the survey, for a total of 482 responses. Some responses are grouped by gender: cisgender women, cisgender men, non-cisgender people, and people who did not specify a gender. (Cisgender refers to people whose identity matches with the gender assigned to them based on their biological sex.) Non-cisgender peoples’ responses are shown together because of the range of gender identities provided and my desire to protect the privacy of the small number of non-cisgender people who responded to the survey.

survey participants

The responses to the survey mostly echoed published sexual assault statistics from other colleges and universities [3]. The main discrepancy is that non-cisgender people elsewhere generally experience higher rates of sexual assault than cisgender people, which was not reflected in the small number of responses from non-cisgender people to this survey.

In the survey, people were asked a series of questions about their experiences with sexual assault. You can revisit the survey at As a reminder, I provided a definition of sexual assault in the survey: “Sexual assault is defined as sexual activity without explicit consent. This can include, but is not limited to, penetration, kissing, and groping (including through clothing). Assault can occur with or without the use of physical force on the part of the assailant. It can also involve emotional coercion. It sometimes, but does not always, involve alcohol or other drugs. Fight, flight, and freezing are all common responses to sexual assault, and none of these responses invalidate a person’s experience or change the definition of assault. Many sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone the survivor knows, including friends, acquaintances, relatives, and current/former partners. Sexual assault can begin with consensual sexual activity – prior consent does not imply current consent. People of any gender identity, race, sexual orientation, age, etc. can be assaulted.”

Quantitative results are summarized below.

Survey question: Do you feel that you have ever been sexually assaulted?
Do you feel that you have ever been sexually assaulted?

Survey question: Do you feel that you have been/were sexually assaulted during your time at Olin?
Do you feel that you have been/were sexually assaulted during your time at Olin?

Survey question: If you feel that you have been/were sexually assaulted during your time at Olin, how would you identify the perpetrator(s)?
Of the 83 people who responded “yes” or “I’m not sure” to having been assaulted at Olin, 81 categorized their perpetrator(s). Most perpetrators were other Olin students (often partners or friends), although a large number were people external to the community (often coworkers and non-Olin students at parties).
How would you identify the perpetrator(s)?

As with all collection of data and information, there are some factors that are potentially skewing these survey results: the response rate was < 100%; and current students from all years responded, so some students who answered “no” to having been assaulted at Olin may still experience sexual assault before graduation.

From these responses, however, it is clear that sexual assault is a problem at Olin. So what can we do about it?

To start, I would like to introduce a new campus group, Empower, which will promote healthy, consensual, and positive relationships, whether romantic, purely sexual, or anything in between. Our first event will be an open discussion about addressing sexual assault at Olin. All students are invited to join at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 14th in the crescent room (upstairs in the DH – feel free to bring your dinner.) My highest priority for this meeting is that it be an open, constructive, and safe discussion. We do have a strong, tight-knit community here at Olin, and I would like to use that to our advantage to address this issue that exists here, like it does everywhere. Alumni and faculty/staff members can send me their thoughts and I will bring them up during the discussion. If you would like to be further involved in the group, shoot me an email. (We are in the process of implementing an anonymous mailing list for students,

I am also doing my AHS Capstone project on addressing these issues at Olin. If you have experienced assault (at Olin or otherwise) and are willing to be interviewed later in fall semester when I have a clearer plan, please let me know. I anticipate discussing topics such as the decision to report, support you did/did not receive, your healing process, and anything else you find relevant. You can email me at to set up an interview or ask any questions you have. The interviews will not be formal “research,” just a way of getting additional perspectives to inform my work on behalf of the Olin community.

Sexual assault has no place at Olin. I look forward to working with the entire community to reduce assault, support survivors, and create an open dialogue around these difficult issues on our campus.

[1] It Happens Here, and It (Still) Happens Here.
[2] 2012 Security & Fire Report. Rep. Olin College of Engineering, n.d. Web. <>.
[3] Sexual Violence Statistics. Rep. BARCC, n.d. Web. <>.

Kicking Off the New Year with SERV!

Welcome back to Olin! We hope your summers were wonderful, and we’re really excited as a board to share with you all the new, exciting service-oriented activities we’re planning for the new semester. We have elections, we have events, and we have resources for all your volunteering needs! Read on to find out more.

Here’s what’s on the horizon for our first month of school:

9/19 – Kickball Tournament! Our semi-annual kickball tournament for Kick-It, an organization working towards a cure for children’s cancer, will be happening on Friday, September 19. Grab your friends and form a team! Registration is $20 per team, and there should be 8-10 people per team. We are also looking for referees, so let us know if you want to volunteer.

9/20 – Alumni Weekend SERV. On Saturday of the reunion weekend, we will be hosting a Parcel B clean up from 11:30am- 1:00pm and making blankets for Project Linus, an organization that donates blankets to children in need, during the picnic from 1:00pm-4:00pm. Stop by for a while and hang out with alumni while you walk through Parcel B or make a fuzzy blanket!

9/21 – Jimmy Fund Walk. Every year, Team Olin walks in memory of our former VP of Academic Affairs Mike Moody. Join the team or donate to help our team reach their goal of $10,000!

9/28 – Charles River Center 5K! This year, SERV is sponsoring the Charles River Center Road Race, a 5K to raise money for an organization that has been providing aid for adults and children with disabilities and autism for 58 years. Join the Olin College team and run with us in Needham/ Wellesley on Sunday at 11am! SERV will reimburse each student $5 for the registration fee. They are also looking for non-runners to volunteer at the race, so let us know if you are interested.

This year, the SERV board will be holding weekly lunch meetings from 12:30-1:30 in the Crescent Room on Fridays, so feel free to stop by and say hello and find out what we are planning. We are also going to be tabling during lunch again, so stop by on your way through the dining hall to say hi and see what we’re up to!

As always, SERV is here for you, and we are always open to your exciting new ideas! E-mail us at, join the CarpeSERV mailing list for updates about spontaneous community service opportunities, and follow us on Twitter @olinserv to get the latest update on upcoming events. Oh, and we have a Facebook page now, so Like us there, too! Have a great month, and welcome to all of our first years!

Election News!

Every fall, we elect two more general members to join our SERV board. Of the two positions available, at least one has to be filled by a first year student, but everyone is welcome to run. Applications are due on Friday, 9/12 and we will be hosting a school meeting and inviting people to vote on Monday, September 15 and Tuesday, September 16 respectively. If you would like more information on how to get involved, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Ari at or Julianne at julianne. jorgensen@students.olin. edu. We’d love to chat with you and answer any questions you may have, and we’ll be sending more details about the election process soon as well. We can’t wait to finish filling our SERV board for the year! :)

Rethink Education @ Olin College

Oliners do big things. We drive startups, make humanoid robots, question everything. If you were around last semester, you may have heard whispers of a multi-school hackathon being hosted at Olin – a pretty big event.

True and false.

The Foundry, Olin’s entrepreneurship group, is hosting Rethink Education, a weekend workshop that will give local undergraduates the opportunity to think critically about revamping the K-12 education space through user-oriented design. On March 28-29, mentors, educators, K-12 students, and undergrads will populate Olin for the weekend.

It is our hope that the design thinking we introduce to attendees will become another tool they can utilize to tackle challenges in a meaningful, productive manner. Collaboration with like-minded students hailing from various schools and backgrounds will only fuel the fire. The odds are against attendees coming up with a revolutionary idea within two days, but we hope they will leave Rethink inspired to continue addressing the problems that they see.

What exactly is going to happen? Unlike a hackathon, Rethink will not be a sleepless event; exhaustion, which can work wonders for code, is detrimental to good design. But there are similarities. In teams of 4, attendees will mingle with stakeholders, identify a pain point, and develop an idea to address said challenge. The entire event will take shape over the course of twenty hours. The core ideas behind user-oriented design will be delivered in three phases (Empathize, Conceptualize, Develop) that will give the event structure.

In the true spirit of Olin, we’re approaching Rethink in the same fashion that we do our projects: iteratively. On Saturday September 13 from 10-5, we will be hosting a 10-15-person, small-scale, Oliner-only version of Rethink. This is your chance to take a step back to contextualize our education and work with people from other years on a topic that affects everyone (backgrounds play a huge role on how you learn and your approach to Olin) – which will in turn give us valuable feedback. As stated in a Carpe, sign up here by Tuesday night!

Some Questions You May Have:

Q: Why is the Foundry hosting a design-focused weekend?
A: To the casual observer, the link between design and entrepreneurship is tenuous at best. But design, as nebulous and indefinable a word as it may be, is important to identifying change that needs to be made. Yet design cannot exist in a vacuum. Entrepreneurship makes such change possible. Great design and great entrepreneurship make change longlasting.

Q: Why the focus on education?
A: Olin was founded as an experiment in breaking engineering education traditions. It only seems fitting that the theme of Olin’s first-ever design workshop be along those same lines.

Q: Stakeholders?
A: Yes! During the Empathize phase, K-12 students, parents, and educators will be present to mingle with attendees.

Q: Why should I attend?
A: In typical Olin fashion, this is an opportunity to facilitate change for a high-impact cause – age, major, etc. are never a barrier to entry. Unlike most Olin projects, there is zero-risk and zero cost associated. Think blue sky!

Nintendo’s Presidency Past and Future

videogametriviaWhether summarizing the company’s financial situation and recent releases to investors, delivering news about new games “directly” to fans, or punching his American subordinate[1], Nintendo’s president, Satoru Iwata, has become the face of many of their news releases. So who is this man, and how did he rise to the position he is in today? And is he suited to remain in his position in this time of flux in the gaming market?

As perhaps may be appropriate for a gaming company, Iwata started as a game programmer. He majored in Computer Science in college, and as soon as he graduated in 1982 he joined HAL Laboratories, which was so named because they wanted to be “one step ahead of IBM.” HAL is a subsidiary of Nintendo that is best known today for making Kirby games. There Iwata worked on a wide variety of games including Earthbound[2] and Balloon Fight[3]. A combination of his programming and people-management skills allowed Earthbound to go from entirely non-functional to complete in only one year,[4] and his advice to use floating-point numbers rather than integers helped make the underwater stages in Super Mario Brothers play smoothly. His programming skills, intuition about game design and leadership ability enabled him to move up through the ranks, and in 1993 he was promoted to president of HAL. Unfortunately, by the time he became president the company had almost gone out of business. He turned the company around, and today HAL is a respected Nintendo studio.

While he was rising through the ranks of HAL, Iwata was made a board member of Creatures, another Nintendo-affiliated game development studio. He had experience working with Creatures, since it was involved with Earthbound. Its best known project, however, is Pokémon. As a board member of Creatures, he ended up being involved with editing Pokémon Red and Blue in order to allow for the different English script, the development of Pokémon Stadium, and the development of Pokémon Gold and Silver. His assistance helped make up for the fact that Game Freak, the primary developer of Pokémon, was chronically understaffed at the time.[5] In part due to successes such as these, in 2000 he was moved from HAL Laboratories to Nintendo itself as head of the Corporate Planning Division. There he helped set up The Pokémon Company to help deal with Pokémon licensing. His projects helped increase Nintendo’s profits 41% between 2000 and 2001, and led the then-president of Nintendo, Hiroshi Yamauchi, to select Iwata as his successor.[6] In doing so, Nintendo moved away from being the Yamauchi family company, as Iwata is the first president of Nintendo to not be part of that family.

Iwata’s time at the top has been turbulent. Only a few years after his promotion, Nintendo reached new heights with the Wii and the DS. The Wii outsold even the Nintendo Entertainment System, which had far less competition. However, this peak was followed by a precipitous fall, with Nintendo posting an annual loss for the first time ever in 2012,[7] an event from which the company has still not recovered. This has led some people to believe that Iwata is no longer suitable to be Nintendo’s president. For instance, many observers, including some of Nintendo’s investors, are of the opinion that Nintendo should start making games for other platforms, such as smart phones. Nintendo has strongly resisted doing so, and rumor has it that Iwata’s personal objections, not a company-wide consensus, are the reason for the resistance. Another reason some people have called for him to resign is a perception that he may be overstretching himself. In 2013, he took on the position of CEO of Nintendo of America in addition to his duties as president of Nintendo’s main Japanese branch. This year, he missed the Electronic Entertainment Expo, the largest video game trade show, as well as Nintendo’s annual meeting of shareholders due to a “growth in [his] bile duct”[8]. Some worry that this health problem was caused in part by him working so hard for the company. Nintendo’s recent woes, his perceived conservative outlook on mobile and PC gaming, and his health problems have all led to a class of people saying it is time for Iwata to move on to another role.

On the other hand, one of the strongest arguments Iwata supporters have is his overall humility and devotion to gaming rather than profit. After a poor 3DS launch in 2011 and a drop in profits in 2014, Iwata took a 50% pay cut,[9] despite the fact that his base salary was a relatively modest $770,000, as opposed to, say, the president of Square Enix, whose base salary was closer to $1.54 million.[10] Unlike most cost-cutters, though, he focuses on quality rather than quick iteration. When the development of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was in trouble as its release date approached, he offered the team a one-year extension. This is in stark contrast to the previous console Zelda title, Wind Waker, which was developed mostly under his predecessor. The game was released in a noticeably unfinished state – data left over on the disk indicates that as many as three more dungeons were planned, which would have almost doubled the main part of the game. Even when no money is at stake, he focuses on fun rather than convenience. He ended up doing squats in front of the entire development team of WarioWare: Smooth Moves when they showed their demo to him, despite the fact that he could have moved just the Wii Remote rather than his whole body.[11] Similarly, when shown a Gameboy Advance game that could be controlled by rotating the system, he proceeded to put the game on a spinning office chair just to see what would happen.[12] He also tries to keep an eye on how game development is happening personally, through having lunch with Nintendo’s senior developers once a week.[13] Clearly, with Iwata at the helm, Nintendo will always focus on delivering a quality, fun experience, even if it comes at the cost of lowering profits.

The arguments for and against keeping Iwata as president in many ways mirror the possible paths Nintendo could follow as it moves into the future. On one hand, it could follow the rest of the gaming industry. Like its rivals Sony and Microsoft, it could make a powerful system to lure third parties to make high cost, graphically advanced titles, and it could follow the lead of Square Enix and Sega and sell titles on smart phones and the like to cushion the blows when a big game does not do well. This risks being outcompeted or being forced into spending everything on a big gamble. On the other hand, Nintendo could continue doing what it did successfully with the Wii (and not successfully so far with the Wii U) – make its own unique games, mostly ignore what other companies are doing, and keep its venerable back catalog locked to Nintendo systems to convince uncertain gamers to buy Nintendo systems. This risks Nintendo becoming completely irrelevant to the gaming industry as a whole, locked into a tiny niche of nostalgia that cannot last indefinitely.

[1] E3 2014 Nintendo Digital Event

Welcome to Frankly Speaking

Welcome to the sixth volume of Frankly Speaking, Olin’s student-run, monthly newspaper.

The ongoing mission of Frankly Speaking is to foster communication between students, faculty, staff, the greater Olin community, and beyond, through publishing many types of content created by anyone with a desire to be printed.

This version of Frankly Speaking has been publishing monthly issues of the paper since Fall 2010, meaning that this is our fifth consecutive year of active publishing. Surviving more than four years is a major milestone for any Olin group since each person who resurrected Frankly Speaking four years ago has by now graduated and moved on.

I’m incredibly proud to be a part of such a momentous year for our tiny, yet tremendously powerful paper, but we need your help to continue publishing. First and foremost, a paper cannot be published without content, and we rely primarily on Olin students to submit articles, comics, and drawings each month. We’re looking for writing of any skill level on topics you are passionate about. The Frankly Speaking editors will help you refine your writing to a point where you are proud to see your classmates and friends reading your work on publication day.

Additionally, we need you to join Frankly Speaking. Positions are flexible, so if you have a new idea for a position or would just like to help, please reach out to me. We need enthusiastic, passionate students to fill the following rolls for this upcoming academic year:

Editor – reads, edits articles, helps with layout. Must be able to spell and edit.

Website manager – keeps FS’s website up to date.

Columnist – write about something or answer questions every month

Contributor – the bread-and-butter of the paper. Everyone is a contributor! Come to the first meeting with your article ideas or send them to: