October 30, 2020

One person can make a difference: Speak up to stop sexual assault

By Mia Ingui

Last week, in the lobbies of Travers and Wolfe halls, and Allen, Ely and Brewster halls, students were asked to show support by writing anonymous letters to survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault. As I entered Wolfe that day, I noticed most students passed up the desk as if it didn’t exist, while only a few stopped to write their anonymous messages. As I entered the cramped elevator to go up to my floor, I overheard the following conversation between three male students.

“Man, it’s ironic that they didn’t let you say ‘no’ to that,” one said.

Then there was laughter.

“Right man? It’s awkward. Like, what was I supposed to write? ‘I’m sorry for your loss?’”

More laughter.

“Yeah, like, ‘Did it feel good?’”

Even more disgusting laughter.

When the elevator stopped at the fourth floor, I made the decision to get out and walk the last three flights of stairs, completely baffled and heartbroken by what I had just heard.

Where is the love and compassion? I know it exists, since so many treat the ideals of anti-violence with the respect it deserves. Unfortunately, though, all of those efforts are undermined by students like the ones on the elevator.

So many are apathetic toward situations that simply “do not apply” to them. As long as these people exist, issues such as domestic violence and sexual assault may never come to an end.

Organized protests are a result of speaking up. (AP Photo)
Organized protests are a result of speaking up. (AP Photo)

Here are some facts for those students on the elevator, or ones who think similarly to them. According to the College’s Anti-Violence Initiatives’s website, people between the ages of 16 and 24 years old are the most vulnerable to sexual assault, domestic or dating violence and stalking. This age range targets one group more than any other: college students.

One in five young women have been sexually assaulted while in college, and most college victims are assaulted by someone they know. This is a fact that will remain unchanged until we do something about it.

There is some hope, though. At the College, there are many resources and programs for educating students about the dangers of violence and sexual assault. Groups like the Anti-Violence Initiative give presentations to students regarding what to do in certain violent or uncomfortable situations. They encourage students to be more than bystanders and to take action when it comes to preventing violence and sexual assault.

The issue lies in the fact that the message is only as powerful as the students receiving it. To actively support a safe campus community, it takes the right, clear mindset. It isn’t enough to be educated on what to do when in a dangerous or potentially violent situation.

The best method is, in fact, prevention. If the violence or assault never happens in the first place, the statistics disappear. Women and men alike no longer will live their lives feeling damaged or less-than, solely because they were a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or rape.

To those boys on the elevator, I feel sorry for you — so out of touch with our world today, while you believe that you are such an influential part of it.

I am to blame, too, though. I should have stood up to those guys and told them how absolutely ridiculous they sounded, how wrong it was of them to make fun of something so serious and ominously prominent in our little world here at the College. Next time, I will. Though it’s only one person, only just me, I will make a difference, and that is all that matters.

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