LETTER TO THE EDITOR: CM Life’s sexual assault story should be reprinted each year


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TO THE EDITOR:

Two years ago Central Michigan Life welcomed students with a very serious warning in its article "The Red Zone: Addressing Sexual Assaults in the First Months of Campus Life.”

The article states "the first six to eight weeks of the school year, women are more likely to be sexually assaulted."

This should be published every year as students arrive on campus.

Central Michigan University should be commended for making it mandatory for students to take the CampusClarity's online course, "Think About It," which addresses sexual misconduct, substance abuse and healthy relationships. While this is a good start, consider that according to the White House Council on Women and Girls, one in four females and one in 71 males will be sexually assaulted while attending college. With CMU's population of 25,000 students, that works out to more than 800 assaults per year.

Adds Central Michigan University Police Chief William Yeagley in "The Red Zone" article said “there’s roughly a third of freshman girls who have been sexually assaulted.”

It is important to note that sexual assault is, at its core, an act of violence and control; not sex. It is an issue that needs to be addressed at a societal and cultural level, and we have a long way to go on that primary mode of prevention.

In the interim, students should be aware of ways to avoid becoming a victim. The National Institute of Justice’s "Factors That Increase Sexual Assault Risk" cites several of these.

The full report from the National Institute of Justice is available at

http://nij.gov/topics/crime/rape-sexual-violence/campus/pages/increased-risk.aspx.

Matthew Peterson, a Phi Kappa Tau brother at Georgia Tech, sent his entire fraternity a manifesto of sorts for rape, as reported in Salon ("Georgia Tech Fraternity Creates Disgusting Guide to 'Luring' your 'Rapebait,” Oct 7,2013) The guide concludes, "IF ANYTHING EVER FAILS, GO GET MORE ALCOHOL" (emphasis provided by Peterson). While sexual assault is not a problem specific to fraternities, studies have shown that on college campuses, men who join a fraternity are three times more likely to commit rape than other men, according to the BBC News.

Students should also be aware of situations that can lead to disaster. Sexual assault is a very real danger, especially to college students.

While the burden of sexual assault prevention lies with our society, culture and the perpetrators, in the interim, students must take the lead in protecting themselves. I encourage Central Michigan Life to start every year by warning students and by giving them practical information that could save them from tragedy.

Globally, we have a lot to do to prevent sexual assault, and it is my hope that community leaders and activists are working together to eradicate sexual assault and the cultural elements that encourage it.

Students need to be safe, and that starts with being informed.

All of these precautions would be unnecessary, if we all followed one rule, “Don’t Rape”.

MATT MERTZ
Mount Pleasant resident



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