“What If Bears Killed One In Five People?” the new “It’s On Us” campaign asks. The public service announcement of the White House was meant to grab people’s attention and make them realize how prevalent sexual assault is. The benefit of this campaign is that it targets all audiences; whereas generally, the only people who care to learn more about sexual assault prevention are not the problem. In fact, there are a lot of problems.
One of the problems with sexual assault is that people like this exist and would say,
“Time and time again we have seen young men expelled or suspended following alcohol-soaked, highly ambiguous sexual encounters that didn’t involve force or the word “no.” We have seen errors of judgment derail a promising future because, in the world of campus sexual assault, all punishments go to 11” ( Kaiser and Dillon).
I am absolutely dumbfounded that the Los Angeles Times would publish this. Yes, some people are ignorant and don’t realize that the only thing that means consent is “yes” itself and one should ask, but these are educated writers for a paper in a largely populated city and they are encouraging the very rape culture they profess to hate. Clearly, the first problem to address is awareness of sexual assault, what it is, how it happens, and how to prevent it. Sexual assault should not be swept under the rug by universities but should be brought into the light on campus, in the eyes of parents, and in the world. Once the world is aware of the problem, universities will have more social freedom to stop it.
In regards to the quote from the LA Times article on punishment based on severity, the first issue is that it wants me to praise a sexual offender for not lurking in the shadows, drugging a girl, and raping her while she’s unconscious… yes, congratulations, you almost treated a woman as a human being but not quite, perhaps try again next Saturday night. If consent is not given, IT IS RAPE. Yes premeditated rape is worse than ignorant rape, but ignorant rape is still rape. Perhaps ignorant rapists should only be suspended for a year or two so that their victim can recover and their life doesn’t have to completely disassemble, however premeditated rapists should be expelled. A minimum sentence for a sexual assault isn’t preposterous as this article tries to make it seem like overkill, a year suspension as a minimum makes perfect sense in regards to protecting the victim. There needs to be a minimum punishment so that people aware of the definition of the crime have incentive to not rape someone. That being said, ignorant rapists are easier to deal with than psychopaths, and the easiest way to deal with an ignorant rapist, is to prevent him or her from becoming one.
If we consider the stance of ignorant rapists as a legitimate one and do nothing to prevent ignorance, we are the most ignorant of all. Universities need to step up and educate all students on the vitality of consent. There should be mandatory seminars, discussions, in-person confrontation of the issue; students shouldn’t have the option of hiding behind the computer screen and filling out 3 multiple choice questions that they aren’t even paying attention to. All students should be forced go to seminars and check in before they can register for classes. They will all go. Also, include steps to take if you or a friend gets sexually assaulted because most students have no idea. Their nightmare goes unreported, and then becomes a reality for yet another person.
Finally, the biggest issue is that universities are very careful to guard their image, to do everything they can to appear prestigious to attract the best student bodies they can. It’s perfectly logical, but is it ethical when sexual assault is swept under the rug to protect athletes and school image? No. Sexual assault happens at all campuses, and some statistics say it will happen to one in four women before they graduate. Do parents know this? No. This is why the first college that actually deals with sexual assault will suffer bad press and fewer applications… because no one talks about it, no one ever will. There need to be more awareness campaigns that target everyone, so that parents can be informed and universities can deal with things appropriately without fear of being socially punished.
Students need to be educated yearly on what sexual assault is and how to do deal with it. Universities won’t educate students or punish offenders if parents still think it isn’t a problem everywhere. The public must be made aware so that the college that first deals with this issue will be celebrated as heroes for finally cracking down, instead of being declared unsafe and suffer repercussions for years.