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Editorial: Students can do more to prevent sexual assault

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Editorial: Students can do more to prevent sexual assault

April marks the beginning of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Unfortunately, our campus is all too familiar with sexual assaults. To start, there’s the seemingly constant Campus Safety Notices informing students about sexual assaults in our community.

Then, there’s the notable “It’s On Us” campaign. You’ve probably heard about it; it’s what brought former Vice President Joe Biden to campus. But even the lovable Biden can’t help us fix everything.

This year, there have been at least seven reported sexual assaults on campus. Over 90 percent of campus assaults go unreported.  These seven are very likely just the tip of the iceberg.

As University students, we all play a role in challenging sexual assault. Whether you are a survivor, supporter or a loved one, we can help make this University a safer place.

This month shouldn’t just be somber. We should reflect on the progress we have made in combating campus sexual assault.

But this topic is serious and we can’t sugarcoat that. We still have great work to do to to eliminate the problem. Fortunately, many events this month offer education for students on how to do their part.

First and foremost, take the “It’s On Us” pledge. It’s simple, easy and important, so just please do it. The pledge communicates to survivors that you’re doing more than just acknowledging the issue and its implications. It shows you acknowledge them and their experiences. Have those difficult conversations with people who are tempted to victim blame.

But often words just aren’t enough. Get active. Realize you may not know more than just the buzz words and facts about sexual assault. FYCARE and Haven Plus aren’t enough. A mandatory class isn’t too enticing for most students.

Take some time to better understand the facts surrounding campus sexual assault. Remember that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men will be sexually assaulted on campus.

It is up to all of us to reduce that number: If you see something, say something. Today is the day to start.

The Red Flag Campaign will be kicking off today on the Main Quad at noon. It’s the perfect opportunity to learn how to spot sexually violent behavior and be an active bystander.

It’s important to reflect on the paradigms that perpetuate campus sexual assault. It is our responsibility to shut down the myths that place blame on victims, or even college party culture. While it’s easy to attribute the problem to the prevalence of alcohol on campus, we need to better understand the crime as one of power and control, not something to be taken lightly.

Chances are you will, at some point, be in the position to support a friend who has been sexually assaulted. We hope you treat them with the respect they deserve, and understand you don’t truly know how they’re feeling. This month is the perfect time to educate yourself, to support victims and to stand against the sexual violence that haunts campus. We’ll be there; we hope you will be too.

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