Turning the rugs
Universities need stronger enforcement of sexual assault
Published: Sunday, October 21, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
A flier discovered in the men’s restroom of a Miami University of Ohio dorm has been making the rounds on the web the last couple weeks.
Its purpose? How to get away with rape. The tips ranged from slipping “roofies” into the girl’s drink to slitting her throat to keep her from identifying the attacker and rounded off with “RAPE RAPE RAPE, its [sic] college boys live it up!!”
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the statistics for sexual abuse are harrowing: one in three women report sexual assault in their lifetime, and one in six men report the same. For college women, it’s one in four.
How does UB compare? According to the 2010 National College Health Assessment Survey, nearly one percent of the student body (over 28,000 students) reported nonconsensual sex during the year. You do the math.
It’s disgusting that in 2012 we’re discussing “rape culture,” but it’s very much a reality – there was a long summer of incidents, such as Paul Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments, to prove that. In many schools, administrations are doing the bare minimum if they even react at all, and victims are left helpless. Actions need to be as serious as the crime.
Contrary to popular belief by people who have assaulted somebody, their victims weren’t “asking for it,” and “leading you on” doesn’t give you any justification if the “yes” becomes a “no.” And yes, you could help it.
If you think that nobody actually thinks this way or that rape doesn’t happen that much, think again. Thirty-five percent of men report at least some degree of likelihood of raping if they could be assured they wouldn’t be caught or punished.
There are examples evident in the media multiple times a year. Last March, an email among the boys in USC’s Kappa Sigma chapter referred to females as “targets” that aren’t actual people and read “non-consent and rape are two different things. There is a fine line, so make sure not to cross it.”
And just last Wednesday, a former student at Amherst College in Amherst, Mass. wrote an account of being raped on campus for the school’s student newspaper. Just as disturbing was her account of the administration’s response when she came forward – how it swept the assault under the rug, telling her she couldn’t change dorms, how pressing charges would be useless since her attacker was about to graduate and being told she should forgive and forget.
There’s a lot of debate on whether or not the flier was a joke, but does that change anything? We laugh at the jokes we see on TV shows like Family Guy and South Park, but television is what most people would consider an escape from reality, and people need to learn that separation. The way we laugh is a testament of how terrible we are as a culture, but overall, it’s a show – it lasts 30 minutes, and when it ends, life resumes.
Life doesn’t resume as it was before for a rape victim, and the rape doesn’t magically go away; it continues and eats away at him or her, keeps that person up at night. It makes that person lose all faith and trust in people.
Overall, 42 percent of rape survivors told no one about the rape. It could be anyone, from the person sitting next to you in class to the person sleeping across the hall from you at home. That “Roofie Colada” that Quagmire serves up for his dates seems a little less funny when your sister or your daughter becomes a victim.
But for schools, it just continues to get swept under the rug. It isn’t widespread enough of an issue or it didn’t really happen or the infamous “boys will be boys.” Student organizations at Miami U that work to prevent sexual assault criticized the school’s response. The campus has allegedly had at least 27 assaults reported since 2009 – an allegation that university officials deny.
It’s very possible the flier creator didn’t have the intention to hurt as many people as he did. It’s very possible it was a joke after all, but something as simple as even a satirical flier is enough to set a victim off. He may not have had the intention to hurt this many people and for the flier to get so much attention, but it did.
This flier was found in a freshman dorm. These students are on their own for the first time and still completely impressionable. If you don’t come down hard on them, you’re only continuing to enable it. Behavior like this should be completely zero-tolerance – you do it, and you’re gone. Welcome to the real world.
Sexual assault is obviously a serious matter, and if our schools are going to shrug it off and refuse to set an example to society, what hope do the victims have? So many don’t report – only 10 percent of female college victims – their attacks because they don’t think they’re going to get help, and judging by these college responses, they might be right. Whether Miami finds the creator or not in its investigation, the university needs to set an example by strengthening any assault or threat of assault, and every university needs to follow suit.