Colleges need to do better with sexual assault awareness

Samantha Weber, Editor in chief

The month of April recognizes many different topics, one of them being sexual assault awareness.

I believe that especially as college students, it is important to raise awareness for sexual assault and harassment that is sadly occurring every day.

It baffles me to think about how there are people out there who do not believe it is as common as it actually is, or they are quick to brush it off as not that serious. It is because of people like them that make women not want to speak up and afraid to tell the stories of assault that happened to them. However, although very difficult to do, it is through sharing stories that people start to feel a little less alone, and that there is hope for them to feel okay again.

In college culture I do not think there is enough awareness for sexual assault. Colleges preach that they have resources, and they have a zero-tolerance policy, but what are you to do when the person who assaulted you is on a major sports team, or well-known at school? Things like this continuously happen and universities all across the country try their hardest to brush it off, cover it up or simply say they cannot take one person’s word over another.

It happens all the time where there is no ‘proof ’ that someone had been sexually assaulted, so when they try to report it, administrators say that they cannot just simply believe one student over another. The thing is though, in my opinion, they can. I think that if someone is brave enough to put themselves out there knowing they might not be believed and consequences might not follow for the assaulter, then they are probably not lying.

The climate we live in today seems more concerned with protecting the future of the assaulter because of what they would call a “minor incident,” than it is with getting justice for the victims. People are so concerned with what will happen to the person who committed the crime, but what about what will happen to the survivor when their assaulter is allowed to walk around campus like nothing ever happened? This is only sending the message that people are allowed to take advantage of others and commit crimes without any sort of repercussions.

I think that increased awareness for sexual assault in college needs to happen, and happen soon. People are afraid to speak up and tell even their friends about it, and this should not be the case. What happened to them is not their fault, and I do not feel like schools give off that impression well enough.

At Mercyhurst, there has been a Take Back the Night Walk to raise awareness for sexual assault, which I think is agoodwaytobringinalotof people. During the walk they give statistics, myths that are misunderstood about sexual assault, and information on the topic. Unfortunately this year the event was canceled.

If you or anyone else you know is struggling, you are not alone. Reach out to the counseling center on campus or the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-4673.