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Shedding light on sexual assault

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For some, sexual assault is not a topic that typically comes up in normal conversation.

For others, sexual assault is all too real, and has had an adverse affect on themselves or their close friends.

Regardless, sexual assault, especially those on college campuses, is not frequently discussed, which is a grave injustice to the countless men and women who are sexually assaulted each year on college campuses (approximately one in five students is sexually assaulted by the time they graduate).

Talks on sexual assaults received a jolt last week when members of the Greek community attended a mandatory Title IX presentation regarding issues such as sexual assault, drinking and consent.

For many, the answers for all of these issues remained inconclusive, which was certainly not the intention of the presenters that were brought to SLU.

The presentation was handled as a skit; essentially two relatively new friends, male and female, were at a party. Both drank, but the woman was visibly more intoxicated than the man (the girl threw up twice, passed out twice and blacked out after throwing up the first time. The man could remember the entire night and had no ill effects from drinking at the time or later). After waking up at the side of the man, the woman said solely, “I’m ready,” which the man construed to mean ready to have sex and they did.

A dialogue with the Greek community followed the skit in which students could ask questions and attempted to determine who was at fault for the event.

Judging from reactions, nearly everyone was unsatisfied with the presentation, and the reasons for their displeasure were divided into two camps.

Some were angry that the Greek community was being singled out for this, as well as other issues, over the past few months. They also felt that the skit was a childish way to explain a scenario for which they could have just received facts. In addition, there were no definitions placed on important concepts such as consent and sexual assault; as an example of the skit’s ineffectiveness, the presenters had to frequently backtrack to explain these terms when consensus would diverge from these definitions.

Others were angered by the responses of their peers in the Greek community, which they explained as victim-blaming (that she drank too much; therefore it’s partly her fault).

They also didn’t think that the skit effectively presented facts and concepts for the large audience to fully understand. In addition, some were angry that women and men were put together for these presentations, and they noted a developing bias, as more men would cheer for those putting some of the blame on the girl than for those who put blame on both. There is also the concern with so many men and women together that sexual assault offenders and victims were quite possibly placed in the same room to discuss sexual assaults.

Under the legal definitions of sexual assault, the man in the skit would be guilty of sexual assault, as the woman was too impaired to legally give consent for intercourse.

This particular event could and should be discussed in greater length than this editorial board can describe in 600 or so words, so those who wish to learn more should reach out to a member of the Greek community for further explanation..

If any benefits of this presentation can be ascertained, it is that the issue of sexual assaults has reached a fever pitch in the past week. This presentation reached 1000 students, and many argue that a more effective presentation should be presented to the entire SLU community.

Paraphrasing writer Ursula K. Le Guin, the power of the harasser and the rapist depends wholly on the silence of the community. The topic of sexual assault does not belong in the shadows.

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