Trigger warning: Sexual assault
Living off campus this year, I’ve never been more afraid of being sexually assaulted, raped, or attacked. I carry pepper spray, got a new keychain that is actually a dagger disguised as a kitten, and I try to always walk with at least one other person at night.
If I were put in the situation of being abused, would these methods even be effective? Honestly, it is tiring having to put in so much effort and planning to go out to my friends house because I can’t walk alone. I shouldn’t have to fear for my life whenever I go somewhere. I should be able to walk alone and feel safe. I should be able to meet a cute, nice guy at a party and not have to fear being raped.
A few weeks ago WILL went to a showing of The Hunting Ground film and it was an eye opening experience. It wasn’t until I saw the film and learned that 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted or raped in college that I truly understood the problems of sexual assault on college campuses. Not only the problem that it is happening, but also the way many universities handle the situation.
Luckily, I am fortunate enough to have never been sexually assaulted and hopefully I never will be. But another fear I have is, what if it does happen? What is my university going to do for me? According to the Hunting Ground film, in 2012, 45% of universities reported having zero sexual assaults, which we all know is definitely not true. Universities often care more about their image as a school than about the safety and well being of their students. They think that having students complete (skim through) an online course about sexual assault and rape is an effective way of decreasing the problem. Universities need to be taking action in helping solve this problem, not taking away helpful programs such as Reclaim on our campus.
When I think about if I got sexually assaulted, raped, or attacked and know that my university might not be there for me, I know that the WILL community would be. I’m lucky to have this support system of people who are educated, passionate, and would be there for me if I needed. But some people aren’t as lucky, and don’t have anywhere to turn. The rape culture right now is not okay, and it doesn’t help that universities are standing idly by not doing very much to help the situation.
Jessie Paley is a first year WILLer and a second year Judaic Studies major.