The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
CONTENT WARNING: THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE CONTAINS REFERENCES TO SEXUAL VIOLENCE.
On Sept. 24, a mass email was sent to all Mizzou students: “Crime Notification – sexual assault.” Another email was sent less than a week earlier warning students about predatory drugging in drinks and attempted drugged assaults that might have occurred at frat parties and local bars. The perpetrators remain unknown; the victims are without justice.
With rape whistles and pocket tasers becoming more and more common purchases for young women, sexual assault on college campuses has become a national epidemic. We have activism slideshows on Instagram, like those of @so.informed, that do little more than fill our feeds with aesthetic designs. We also have empty promises from Mizzou faculty and staff. How are either of these things supposed to help women, victims and survivors?
It’s hard to come up with a solution to something that’s been a problem for so long. Sexual assault has become so ingrained within our society; it’s just another thing that women have to deal with. Roofied drinks. Sleazy comments. Stolen touches. And if we dare express our discomfort, we not only risk insults but serious injuries.
Columbia’s student population came together on Oct 5. to raise awareness about sexual assault in Columbia. Out of the thousands of students who attend universities and colleges in Columbia, Mo., only about 500 people showed up supporting the cause. Fighting against sexual assault is an uphill battle, and ignorance and disinterest make it even harder.
“If it doesn’t do anything for the victims, it at least raises awareness,” Mizzou student Claire Lewis said. “Something will happen, and then we’ll talk about it for a week, and then it goes away, but in reality, it never really goes away.”
And she’s not wrong: while some Mizzou administrators did attend the protest, they didn’t speak to the crowd on behalf of the university.
Are two mass emails all the support this cause gets from Mizzou? Everyone says to believe the victims, except when the offenders are allegedly the star athletes and golden kids of Mizzou. Reputation shouldn’t matter more than safety, and yet victims and survivors at Mizzou not only risk running into their predators out on campus but also in the classroom.
“I would personally like to see a harder crackdown on the protection of women and regulations of frats,” Mizzou student Caleb Bell said.
Although it’s important to remember that victims aren’t only women and that there are sexual assault victims who belong to fraternities, we can’t ignore the culture around Greek life. Male fraternity members are more likely to hold a position of power over women, and with ‘locker room talk,’ it’s even encouraged. Women in Greek life are 74% more likely to experience sexual violence on campus than women who are not involved in Greek life, according to Students 4 Social Change.
We have to educate people about the uncomfortable or dangerous situations they are putting us in and then implement real consequences for those who don’t want to learn. Victims are rightfully scared their claims will be ignored and choose not to report their assaulters. According to RAINN, out of 1000 sexual offenders, 975 will walk free.
Mizzou student Kate Taylor linked a “Grievances against the University of Missouri Regarding Sexual Assault” form in her bio for more information and support on the subject. If we come together as a campus and show our unified support for the cause, we’ll get the attention of the Mizzou administration and build a safer campus.