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University community, Greek and non-Greek, needs to confront sexual assault



At the University there is an issue so taboo, especially within Greek Life, that no one dares bring it up.

Sexual assault.

Those brave enough to speak out against it or its perpetrators deserve respect, our attention and serious consideration. Many have friends or know someone who was the victim of a sex crime, and when we learned of it we were most likely disturbed, angry and left wanting to know why.

What we have to do as young adults in a community that is ground zero for sexual assaults is to start looking at the problems and begin to work to change them.

One major issue is people using sexual assault jokes as a way to laugh off mistakes they made the night before. For example, I’ve heard women say, ‘He must’ve roofied me,’ in a joking fashion. People turning phrases like these are mocking the real and painful experiences people have faced due to sexual assault.

What I am referring to here is not false reporting. False reporting of rape is not the massive number some may think it is. According to a study by the American Prosecutors Research Institute@@http://www.nsvrc.org/organizations/243/@@, only 2 to 8 percent of all reported rapes turn out to be false@@http://edinburgheye.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/rape/@@ — the same margin of error on almost every reported crime.

What concerns me is nonchalant lying in casual conversation, situations in which females know for a fact that they were not assaulted but throw around words like “rape” to cover regrettable decisions.

Jokingly accusing men of foul play to cover up regrettable decisions when Rohypnol@@http://www.medicinenet.com/date_rape_drugs/[email protected]@, drugs or excessive drinking were not involved is dangerous and scary for men.

Sorority woman Madison Brooks knows the situation all too well.@@http://directory.uoregon.edu/telecom/directory.jsp?p=findpeople%2Ffind_results&m=student&d=person&b=name&[email protected]@

“(Some) women proceed to engage in skeptical decisions and wake up the next morning feeling extremely embarrassed or ashamed,” she says. “I have witnessed so many circumstances where women claim they have been sexually assaulted because they don’t remember what happened or they ended up cheating on their boyfriends, and (they) use sexual assault as a justification and to reassure (that) their boyfriends won’t break up with them.”

Sexual assault is without question the most serious crime to regularly occur on campuses throughout the nation. It’s disgusting how prominent it is within colleges across America. But when a girl has a few drinks and ends up hooking up with a guy on her own free accord, and then jokes about it as her being taken advantage of, there is a massive issue.

When people joke aloud about sexual assault, I’m sure they mean no harm. But it’s not acceptable — it’s a way of participating in the inappropriate discourse of a college community that allows the proposition of sexual assault to be a laughing matter.

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The University’s Sexual Wellness Advocacy Team @@http://swat.uoregon.edu/@@defines consensual sex on their website as, “A ‘yes’ that is freely given when the option of ‘no’ is present and viable. Consent is a step-by-step process. For example, if one partner has consented to something at one point in time, they are not obligated to consent to that same something at another point in time. Consent cannot be assumed.”

If a female feels she did not have consensual sex, then she should file a report of rape. But if she feels like her sexual endeavor met the above criteria for consent, the word “rape” should never be used to describe that experience.

“If a person allows a sexual act to be performed on them, that does not automatically mean that they have given legal consent,” Brooks said. “If that person allows a sexual act due to coercion — which includes if the woman is threatened, asleep or intoxicated — then she is not legally consenting. This draws a fine line because I firmly believe that a lot of the time women instigate the action itself, regret it after and then call it assault.”

Another major concern surrounding sexual assault is one I see firsthand on a daily basis. The language some fraternity members employ (non-Greek males too) includes the casual use of terms such as rape, slut and other salacious remarks that degrade women or joke about assault. It has to stop.

“Between guys, when they say ‘rape,’ it is normal,” sorority woman Hannah Sullivan said.@@http://directory.uoregon.edu/telecom/directory.jsp?p=findpeople%2Ffind_results&m=student&d=person&b=name&[email protected]@

Both men and women are guilty of slighting the actual victims of this horrific crime with insensitive jokes and phrases. Being the victim of a sexual crime, I can only presume, would be one of the most traumatic and devastating things to endure. When we, as Greeks or as college-age adults, joke about or don’t take sexual assault seriously, it cheapens the crime and is hurtful to those who have been attacked.

“The way you are playing the word off nonchalantly, statistically you are hurting people’s feelings in the room,” former SWAT member Jesselyn Parks said.@@my ex. fml – mw http://directory.uoregon.edu/telecom/directory.jsp?p=findpeople%2Ffind_results&m=student&d=person&b=name&[email protected]@

Sexual assault, I feel, has been defined somewhat on the college level as a women’s issue. This is incorrect. It is an issue for both men and women. It is not the responsibility of women to not get raped. It is everyone’s responsibility to not put themselves in dangerous situations and to know their limits, but it is the man’s responsibility not to assault women. Rape goes away when men stop raping women, not when women get good enough at avoiding it.

“We get these emails from the University talking about rapes that have happened, and then they give us tips on how to avoid being raped,” Parks said. “Women feel it is their responsibility to not get raped when men need to have the bravery to ask, ‘Do you want to have sex with me?'”

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So what do we do as a community to begin to curb both the mocking of and actual occurrences of rape? We take it seriously. We stop the kidding about forced sex. We stop the accusations we know aren’t true. We stop putting ourselves in the high-risk situations of being attacked — or being accused of attacks — by being more responsible when we drink.

Our community, both Greek and non-Greek, needs to learn to tackle real-world issues and to act like adults. It is time we start to not only discuss sexual assault in a serious manner, but to work to eliminate it.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of a sexual crime you can call 1-800-656-HOPE and ask to speak with a victim’s advocate who will walk you through the process of reporting the crime.@@http://www.rainn.org/@@


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