Sexual violence exposed

By Hannah Bucklin

Sexual violence is as prevalent as ever on college campuses. On average one in 20 college females report being raped and one in four will be the victim of sexual assault during her academic career as an undergraduate, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

Throughout April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, USD Women’s Center supports the awareness of sexual violence. Last week, the Center offered a sexual awareness program where they put on certain events, such as Consent: Why It Matters and Take Back The Night, to enlighten the student body about sexual assault and offer up a chance for those who have been victims to share their stories.

Students also decorated T-shirts as part of the Clothesline Project, which was started in Cape Cod, MA to address the issue of sexual violence against women. Each T-shirt represents a victim of sexual violence.

According to NSVRC, sexual assault does not only include rape, but any involuntary sexual activity that someone in coerced to engage in when they have not consented. Sexual assault on college campuses is evident and many efforts to prevent such violence have been put in action.

USD, being a smaller campus, reduces the risk of sexual assault but does not eliminate it altogether.

Nevertheless, Sophomore Sloane Smith feels that sexual violence is prevalent on any campus.

“The issue of rape and sexual violence is relevant whether not you are a male or female, partier or Friday night studier, on a big campus or a small campus,” Smith said. “USD is no exception to sexual violence.”

There have been 19 reported cases of sexual violence at USD in the past six years. According to Public Safety, the 19 reported cases of sexual assault occurred on-campus, in certain off-campus buildings or property owned or controlled by USD.

Despite statistics, many USD students, including junior Kami Shabaz feel relatively safe on USD campus.

“As a female I have never felt threatened in any way throughout my experience at USD,” Shabaz said. “I definitely think that because we have a smaller campus it creates a safer, more comfortable environment for the students.”

Shabaz is fortunate never to have been victim of sexual violence, but many other female college students across the country have been less fortunate.

The Cleveland Rape Crisis Center said that every 21 hours a woman is raped on an American college campus. The study found that these women are normally in their first or second year of college. The report also said, “8 percent of men admit to committing acts that meet the legal definition of rape or attempted rape. Of these men who committed rape, 84 percent said that what they did was definitely not rape.”

Confusion on whether it was rape or consensual is often related to the consumption of alcohol.

Being intoxicated increases the chance of being raped by one and half percent, according to NSVRC. The Cleveland Center said men are more likely to think that a woman who drinks is more willing to engage in sexual behavior. Sarah Lawrence College did a study and determined that at least 50 percent of college students’ sexual assaults are associated with alcohol use. Their study showed that if a woman is drinking than she is perceived as being willing to have sex.

Sexual assault is most likely to occur on campus than off campus and is normally committed by someone the victim knows. The Sarah Lawrence College study of sexual violence said that 80 percent of rape victims know their attacker.
Smith feels that USD being a smaller school offers students a sense of security.

The smallness of our school enables me to feel more comfortable and safe in that I have many resources and a solid network of support available to me, should I be a victim of sexual violence,” said Smith. “However, that by no means trivializes the need for awareness raising efforts.”