Campus forum generates hope for a new definition


In the midst of the Code TEAL campaign, which has flooded campus in teal colored signs as well as a series of statistics pertaining to sexual assault on DePauw's campus, around 75 students entered the Union Building Ballroom Sunday night eager to be heard.

The guided conversation, mediated by Dean for Student Life Dorian Shager, sought to address what the climate is like on campus with respect to sexual assault, why the climate is that way and how to go about changing the climate.

The conversation ranged in topic from what the exact definitions of sexual assault and consent are, whether the drinking scene at DePauw causes a greater presence of sexual assault, and the difficulties for survivors who decide to come forward.

Shager said the conversation was a productive one though it did not yield a definite solution.

"At times the conversation can be difficult when you're talking about sexual assault, but I think they did a really great job," Shager said.

Logan Meek, a junior, commented early on in the discussion that many men do not find themselves in situations in which they assault another individual, but they are unaware of how to help those who may become involved in those situations.

"My fraternity may be creating this monster and I don't know what I can be doing to stop that," Meek said.

Bystander intervention techniques were suggested to combat some of the occurrences in addition to making sure as an individual entering sexual contact with someone else that consent is issued by both parties.

An issue that created some debate between many attendees was whether men and women should dress, act or consume alcohol in a certain way in order to protect themselves and others from being sexually assaulted.

Many women, including event organizer and Women's Center Intern J.C. Pankratz, argued that individuals should be able to wear whatever they choose, act however they choose and consume the amount of alcohol they choose while still feeling safe.

"When I go to a party, why am I accountable for making sure I don't get raped?" Pankratz asked.

Men involved in the conversation suggested that preemptively reducing the risk of being sexually assaulted by being conscious of one's behavior and demeanor may reduce the number of assault cases as potential perpetrators would be less likely to take advantage of them or misconstrue their actions.

The conversation repeatedly returned to the idea of misinterpreted consent stemming from alcohol use. Junior Olivia Carmel was one of the individuals to bring up the issue.

"Nobody knows where the lines is because they are able to blame it on the alcohol. So people will say, 'Well we were both drunk so it's O.K., but that's not O.K.," Carmel said.

Though no concrete solution was reached as to how to prevent the issue in the future, attendees suggesting looking out for one's self and for friends.

Additionally event organizers passed out note cards on which each individual was able to suggest a solution that he or she would personally take on. Organizers said these answers will be released at a later date.

Pankratz said she appreciated the turn out and the deep conversation. She said she hopes the search for a solution will continue.

"I'm hoping that all sorts of people from across DePauw's campus continue to come to events," Pankratz said. "Not just from one population or another."