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Transformation of Sexual Assault Culture on College Campuses

        Sexual assault has always been one of those topics to avoid in a conversation because many individuals have contrasting views. In my experience, it has been something that is rarely discussed in society. Luckily, we now are living in a day and age where people are speaking up about events they have previously been silent about or occurrences that were unjustifiable and this challenges the efficiency of our current societal systems. One of the major steps to changing how sexual assault culture is addressed is to gather the support of many authoritative groups in hopes of reviewing current federal legislation and make effective changes where it’s needed.

       In September 2014, The White House showed their support by launching the “It’s On Us” campaign to end sexual assault on campus. This campaign did a great job in addressing the injustice happening throughout the acts of sexual assault. The campaign hopes that “men and women across America [will decide to] be a part of the solution to end sexual assault.”

Unfortunately, one in five women will be sexual assaulted during her college years. During the initial launch of the campaign, President Obama noted the harsh statistic which reports that only 12% of these assaults will be reported and an even smaller portion of offenders will receive punishment for their crime.

The reason that sexual assault is more prevalent on college campuses can be attributed to the scenarios in which sexual assault is common. It is common for alcohol to be a leading factor in rape cases but that does not stand to excuse or justify the behavior of the offenders. Also, the low number of reported cases can be attributed to circumstances in which victims are concerned they will get in trouble if they were intoxicated at the time of the incident and many victims sadly blame themselves for the assault. Another factor that causes individuals to stay silent is out of uncertainty of how the offender will react. However, it’s important for individuals around the victims before, during or after the assault, to take initiative and do something if they suspect a situation like this will occur.

During an interview on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon this year, Vice President Joe Biden had a lot to say on the topic and expressed his disdain for rape. The beginning of the interview, Biden touched on how he deems it necessary for the “men and women of America [to] be a part of the solution to campus sexual assault.” He made this special request because men tend to stay out of the conversations pertaining to sexual assault and it is critical that men speak up about the “rape is inevitable” stigma that circulates in society today. It falsely accuses men of being inherently monsters and that they possess a lack of self-control.

            Another controversial topic is found in defining the terms rape and sexual assault. The boundary of when intercourse becomes sexual assault is not universally specified. It is a common belief that a sexual act can be defined as rape when the person says no, but then is this supposed to imply that if the person doesn’t say “No,” its consensual? Unfortunately, even in some cases where the same definition of rape is used, the punishment the offender receives might vary. However, Biden refuses to condone any acts of sexual assault and won’t accept an attempt to justify its occurrence. In the interview with Jimmy Fallon, he brought up a circumstance that is highly controversial because it is frequently wondered whether or not sex while an individual is under the influence, should be considered rape. Biden’s opinion indicated that “if a woman can’t respond because she’s inebriated or under the influence, then it’s rape.”

            There is also a lot of injustice present when sports are involved. There have been many cases that involve a student athlete sexually assaulting another female student. In majority of these cases the team and school downplay the severity of the incident because they don’t want to compromise the reputation of the athlete or athletic team. However, this fails to recognize the impact it has on female student or the different forms of trauma it can create.

            In order to transform the culture it is important to unite as many people as you can, to stand against the issue. This means taking action by increasing awareness and intervening when you see it. The Vice President made an optimistic statement that “we can change the culture here. No means no” and it is imperative that we promote the construction of safe environments as well as present retribution for these crimes

Nia Avery


Nia Avery is a driven twenty-one year old who aspires to make a difference by having a positive impact on at least one person, every day. In high school, she was enrolled in a rigorous program called The International Baccalaureate Program. This is where Nia first learned that she had a love for writing however, her skills did not fully develop until she started writing and performing poetry during her last two years of high school. When she started attending Salisbury University in Salisbury, Maryland, she decided to bring her poetry to campus. At SU, she is in her senior year, majoring in Communication Arts and minoring in English. She is also proud to be a third-year Resident Assistant is making strides to ensure that students have a good experience during their time at SU. Nia plans to graduate from Salisbury University and continue her education by going to graduate school to earn her Master's degree in Conflict Analysis and Dispute Resolution. When she has free time, she enjoys hosting movie nights with her friends, writing poems or burying her face in a book.  Her favorite quote is "Be yourself and let your actions reflect your true character," a quote she created during her freshman year of college that has been a motivator throughout her past four years.
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