By: Kyla Coan
For those of you who didn’t know, this month is Sexual Assault Awareness month, and SWE and WiSE along with other groups on campus have put together multiple different events this month, including forums, a showing of “The Hunting Grounds,” tonight at 730 PM in SALC, and “Denim Day” on April 28th, and the many women of these groups can be spotted sporting teal ribbons around campus, because a teal ribbon is a symbol for sexual assault prevention. But why are we putting so much time and effort into this?
Unlike many larger campuses, we have only had 1 incident of reported sexual assault in the past 4 years (according to the campus security and fire safety report). But many of us also have the knowledge only 31% of rapes are reported (RAINN), and of those 31% reported, only 19% will ever serve any kind of sentence. In reality, only .06% of rapists ever serve any kind of jail time (RAINN), and considering that 1 in 6 women, and 1 in 33 men will be sexually assaulted or raped in their lifetime (RAINN) that’s far too many perpetrators walking free. That is what is so horrifying to myself and many others, and while we may not have a rape problem on campus, the sad reality is that many other campuses do, and its a problem in our country as a whole. We as a country have a history of victim blaming, and of lettings perpetrators of rape off with minor sentences or just community service, which is especially true in high school and college aged perpetrators, which is another reason why we are having events on campus this month. One of the largest discussions thus far has been how “We tell girls ways to change how the dress and act so that they aren’t the victim, we tell them to take self defense classes so they can fight off someone, but what we should be doing is going to the source, the perpetrators and trying to prevent a woman from becoming a victim or an almost victim, and for the women who do become victims we need to listen to them, we need to support them, and we need to help them in any way we can.”
Attending a school with such a skewed ratio, group like WiSE and SWE offer a sort of safe place for women to be surrounded by other women, and talk freely about these sorts of things, in ways that it may be hard to with our male peers. This isn’t to say that our male peers do not care, but it is to say that sometimes its easier to feel safe and comfortable opening up to our female peers. More and more we are seeing conversations about sexual assault blowing up, which is great that we finally have people talking and listening, but the next step from talking is taking action and educating people, and that’s what these events this month are about. It’s about not only showing our support, but also educating everyone on campus who we possibly can. One sexual assault incident is too many.
Please join us tonight for the showing of “The Hunting Ground” at 730 in the SALC, and if you want a teal ribbon please stop by the WiSE room in the McLaury Building on the 2nd floor.
For more information on sexual assault, please visit http://www.rainn.org. If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-473.