Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should know by now that our school and many others, are embroiled in the issue – no, EPIDEMIC – of sexual assault. In this past school year alone, we have had three publicized sexual assaults rock our campus, and a quick look at statistics says that there are many more. Some cases haven’t been reported, others cases have been swept under the rug and there are still more instances in which victim is unaware that he or she was even assaulted.
Unfortunately for Greek life, they are taking the fall for the three known sexual assaults of the past few months. In February, school administrators placed Greek life on social probation in order to give them time to come up with a plan to change things. Because of this, many students are beginning to see Greek life – chiefly, fraternity men – as the cause of the sexual assault culture on campus. The assaults occurred at fraternity parties, but no one seems to focus on the fact that at least one of the offenders wasn’t even in a fraternity.
Is Greek life part of the problem? Yes. There is a lack of education and participation in programs that try to prevent sexual assault. Many fraternities opt out of these events or don’t take them seriously. They usually throw the biggest parties with the largest amounts of alcohol, which provide opportunities for assaults to happen.
This problem, however, doesn’t start with Greek life, and it certainly doesn’t end with Greek life. This is a culture problem. We still live in a society that, for whatever reason, doesn’t educate its citizens from a young age that sexual assaulting someone is bad. That rape is bad. That drugging someone at a party is BAD.
There are many people at this school who aren’t in Greek life. There are sports teams, clubs, professional groups and more. Not everyone who attends a fraternity party is in a fraternity or a sorority. Rapists don’t just belong to one subset of the population; people rape. Sometimes, it’s too late to teach them not to; some people will always be rapists. Even so, we need to start telling our sons and daughters BEFORE they go to college not only what constitutes rape, but also that it is in no way, shape or form acceptable. We need to tell them that they do not deserve that kind of treatment, and that no one else in the world does either.
I’m sure you’ve all heard what happens to people who cheat on tests in college (this applies to some, but not all colleges): they get expelled right away. After being found guilty of cheating, the schools put their money where their mouths are and follow through with their policy that cheating is unforgivable. Now let’s look at a situation where a guy put a drug in someone’s drink, waited until they passed out, and then proceeded to rape that person. The incident is reported, there are eyewitnesses; there is no doubt that guy raped someone. If we can expel someone for cheating on a test, which is an act of destroying academic integrity but not physically harming someone, why can’t we do the same for rapists?
This doesn’t just apply to our school. There was a story about a girl who walked around her campus carrying the mattress she’d been raped on. The school handled the situation poorly, and somehow the offending student remained a student. Other stories have emerged about accused rapists being allowed to return to their respective colleges after a suspension.
We live in a culture that victim blames instead of offender blames.
“She dresses like a slut, that’s it.”
“She was TOTALLY asking for it.”
“Why were they walking around at night by themselves anyway?”
If you’ve ever said one of these lines or something like it, you were victim blaming and this is a part of the problem. These comments justify the sexual assault; they make it OK that she was raped because her dress was short. Instead of doing that, start asking yourselves: how does that person feel, having been stripped of their will? And why do I feel the need to protect the person who did that?
I want to say that there’s a simple solution to the problem of sexual assault, but I don’t believe there is. Anyone could be a rapist, and, like anything in life, it’s usually difficult to prove that the incident happened. As a society, we need to take a long, hard look at ourselves and ask an important question: is this something that we’re going to stand up against, or let continue with half-hearted repercussions? I hope the answer is obvious.