Steps Harvard Should Take To Fight Rape On Campus

Sexual assault on campus is an issue that Harvard needs to take seriously. Here are the first 7 ways that Harvard needs to make a change if it wants to make a real difference.


1. Make rape kits available at HUHS.

It is completely inappropriate not to give students the tools they need to prosecute their attacker, if they so desire. This is non negotiable. HUHS should have rape kits available 24/7 for survivors. 


2. Teach students how to identify what too drunk to consent looks like in their yearly trainings.

The line between consensual inebriated sex and sexual assault should not be a fuzzy area. If people don't know what too drunk to consent looks like, then they can assault people without even realizing it. We should eliminate as much room for confusion as possible to protect people's right to drink safely. Trainings on campus, including Speak About It, are helpful, but not clear enough on what is and is not consent when alcohol is a factor.   


3. Mandate that there is someone at each authorized party to ask obviously intoxicated couples if they are okay as they leave.

In addition to teaching students what too drunk to consent looks like, it would be helpful for Harvard to mandate that students who apply to throw parties mandate at least one person to check with people as they leave. If a coupling leaves and one or both appear too drunk, such a person can ask if they are okay. If someone needs help getting home safely, that person can call them the Harvard shuttle service,find a trusted person to walk them home, or call HUHS if necessary. If we can mandate each party with alcohol have a host over 21+ to manage the alcohol, we can mandate one person to be an extra barrier to sexual assault. 


4. Have a formal policy that moved rapists, not victims, out of their houses.

If someone lives in the same dorm or house as their attacker, there should be a formal policy that requires the accused rapist to move, not the survivor. It is deeply wrong to ask a survivor to live in the same space as the person who assaulted them, or move themselves.


5. Make the process of sexual assault accusation transparent by teaching what the process looks like in student trainings on consent and sexual health.

If we expect survivors to come forward and report their attackers, we should make the process transparent, so they know what to expect and what options are available to them.


6. Discuss consent outside of a sexual context to fight against our coercive culture.

People are not only coercive in a sexual context. We live in a coercive culture that teaches people that perseverance gets results, from pestering people into joining clubs to going to events on campus, coercion is a huge part of our culture, which is part of why it can be so difficult for people to separate what is appropriate in a sexual context from what is coercive in a sexual context. It is important to talk about how we are coercive in every day life to better understand how not to be coercive in the bedroom.  


7. Encourage use of trigger warnings in classes where applicable.

Trigger warnings do not need to serve as a means of censorship, but rather as a warning for survivors who may need to brace themselves for triggering material.