Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Teal Elephant


The Teal Elephant on College Campuses

Every high schooler who has plans on continuing his or her education holds their breath hoping that someday a college acceptance letter will come in the mail. The application process is grueling, and when the letter final comes in the mail announcing college acceptance, it's a huge relief. However, colleges aren't what they used to be.  Colleges are now home to countless pathways for education. They are the home of students from all over the world. However these institutions, that we as a society place so much value on, are also home to a teal elephant that is often turned a blind eye towards. The elephant on every college campus is sexual assault.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice:

Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.

Sexual assault is considered a felony almost unanimously across the United States, but each state has it's own laws and penalties for the crime. 

Also, each college and/or university handles sexual assault cases differently.

Elephants on Campus:

News media and social media has definetly lead to the increased awareness to sexual assault in colleges.  The Washington post has put together a list of every college and the list of reported sexual assault cases.  Recently, campaigns have emphasized the lack of rights victims have on college campuses and how actions made by a college are usually in favor of the aggressor, NOT the victim. One of the reasons is the issue of alcohol and it's role in sexual assault cases. "you shouldn't have been drinking" is often a reason for blaming the victim for the situation. 

Consent: Respect the situation and the answer

It's seems as if with the consequences and just the thought of being a felon, sexual assault wouldn't be an issue. It should be a no brainer to respect someone enough to realize when it's proper to ask for consent, and when sex shouldn't even be brought up into a situation. However, it is. 

Consent should be black and white. Don't take advantage of a person's inability to make a decision due to either a substance (such as alcohol or drugs), or emotions, or things going on in their life that they aren't showing.

On college campuses especially, alcohol is a major factor with sexual assault. Regardless of being a wet, dry, or somewhere in between college campus there will almost always be some form of alcohol present. 

However, the issue isn't wether or not the alcohol is allowed. The issue isn't even the amount of alcohol consumed. The issue is that alcohol is the leading substance used on college campuses during sexual assault. 

Regardless of the victim or the aggressor being too drunk to make proper decisions, rape is rape. 

Dragging the Elephant out:

Removing the elephant from college campuses isn't going to be easy, especially when talking about the elephant isn't easy. Some people will blame the victim for being raped. However, the elephant is being dragged out.

In 2014, Stanford University students rallied in support of a sexual assault victim and used the hashtag #StandWithLeah when making their stand on the issue. 2014 also brought to light the girl with the mattress who carried her mattress with her everywhere until her aggressor was expelled.

Last year at the Grammies, Lady Gaga performed an amazing song, written for the movie "The Hunting Ground", that served a powerful message for survivors of Sexual Assault.  It brought national attention to the issue as she took a stand with many other survivors on the stage.

This year, USA Today shared a campaign brought fort by "Don't Accept Rape" discussing the issues of rape on college campuses. Berry College even has campaigns during April (sexual assault awareness month) that invite students to learn more about sexual assault, encourages support of the victims, and brings awareness to the fact that the elephant needs to leave.

College should be a place where sexual assault shouldn't be an issue. It should be a place where students are safe, regardless of the situation that they might find themselves in, whether it be at a party, at a dorm building, or just anywhere on campus. It shouldn't matter if everyone is sober or if everyone is intoxicated.

Sexual assault shouldn't be an
 elephant on college campuses

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