Sexual assault: let's start a conversation


According to the Office of Public Safety, there have been two reports of sexual assault and one report of sexual battery so far this year on DePauw's campus. As not only a woman, but as a member of the DePauw community, it breaks my heart to hear that DePauw Student Government President Christine Walker has received five separate e-mails from women who have been sexually assaulted or friends of assault victims. While Director of Public Safety Angie Nally said there has been no increase in reports this year or this month, these incidents are still alarming.

Each of these cases has a lasting impact on not only the victims, but our campus as a whole. These crimes are just that – crimes – and need to be taken seriously. I think an important part of this process to curb these situations is examining the mentality DePauw students have about male-female relationships.

We are definitely a party school, but with the predominantly gender segregated housing and a social life fueled by alcohol, it seems that the way we socialize might even, in some ways, be more conducive to sexual assault than we realize.            

Women on campus discuss these issues — at what point do more men join the dialogue? We women have been told repeatedly from a very young age that "No means no." In college I've been told to "watch my drink" more times than I can count, but who tells the men not to drug women in the first place? Apparently it's not common sense, because it still happens far too regularly by any standards.

We've been to speaker after speaker about women's health and rights, but maybe what we need is a speaker telling men of the obligation to respect women. Perhaps some men talk about these issues, but I think we need a campus-wide discussion with people on both sides of the equation. Even something as small as stopping the use of derogatory terms for women can go a long way in improving the environment we create on campus.

Even among women, there's a disconnect. The number of times I've heard a woman say "guys will never change, so why bother?" or "they only want one thing," is tragic, because I know so many wonderful men that defy that stereotype. And it's statements like these that propagate the idea that it's okay for those other men to expect women to "put out," or get them drunker in hopes of "scoring."

Another hard truth is that rapists don't wear labels. With a campus so small, it could be your lab partner, a fellow club member or even a friend, that is the perpetrator of such an act. These circumstances make it so much more difficult for women to report what happens, because knowing the offender creates a feeling of responsibility and victim blaming.

This gray area, where factors like alcohol and friends swirl into sexual assault, is what's really challenging. What about when the man is really drunk, or if two people "hooked up" before? What if the girl was blacked out and doesn't know if she consented or not?

These questions resonate in every victim's mind, and they might not even have answers. But what's important is that we're talking about it together, as a campus, to move one step closer to eradicating sexual assault, no matter the circumstances.

— Bremer is a sophomore from Clarendon Hills, Ill., majoring in communications.