EDITORIAL: Sexual assault on this campus cannot be tolerated. Here’s how to take action.
Today, we published an advocacy story answering one of the most important questions on a college campus: What to do if you, or someone you know, are sexually assaulted?
There are many options. However, there is one clear takeaway that we as an organization saw from this story: You can't be a bystander.
Whether you are a Resident Assistant, sorority sister, friend or peer, take action to prevent sexual assault. We can change the culture about sexual assault on this campus, but it won’t happen without a change of attitude towards sexual assault and how we treat survivors.
More than 50 percent of sexual assaults in college occur from the beginning of August until the end of November. During this period of time – right now –students face a much higher risk of being sexually assaulted. When you factor in age, alcohol and weekend habits, it's clear to see how students can be extremely vulnerable to assaults.
To start changing campus culture, students must agree to report sexual assaults, help survivors and condemn violence against students on our campus.
We must address fears and misconceptions. Victims should not be concerned about getting in trouble. Nobody is going to get a minor in possession if you take a friend to a hospital because you think they have been drugged.
We must act as advocates. Even if the victim is unsure if they want to pursue legal action, they should complete a SANE exam and have a rape kit completed at the hospital. Though it is always a survivor's choice, strongly consider reporting the incident to the police. By doing so, you might prevent a predator on our campus from hurting someone else.
Last year, we published two editions, on Oct. 8 and Oct. 11, about sexual assault. One story about sexual assault survivor Rachel Wilson resulted in a predator having criminal charges reinstated against him by the Michigan Attorney General’s office. A former leader on our campus, Ian Elliott, is now serving a one-year prison term.
After reading our coverage, President Bob Davies formed a Title IX advisory commission, which is believed to still be operating today, despite some changes in personnel.
This year, we want to make sure students keep talking about sexual assault prevention and understand what resources are available to survivors. Sexual assault – the cover-up of those assaults and the silencing of survivors – cannot and will not be tolerated by CMU students.
For this change of campus culture to take root, student groups, Greek Life and administrators also must publicly condemn rape culture and the silence that shrouds victims from seeking justice.
We need student groups to actively address this problem. Each and every weekend, not just after someone is assaulted or after the university takes action.
There must be an openness and eagerness to take action to find out who is sexually assaulting women and to take action in reporting them.
It’s time to stop accepting sexual assault as a college norm.
We are better than that. We must do better than that.