FYCARE changes encourage open discussion of sexual assault

People are sexually assaulted — even raped — on college campuses across the country every day. The University is absolutely not an exception to this gruesome and violent crime. But that’s not to detract from the severity of sexual assault that happens outside the confines of a university campus.

It’s a pervasive crime.

But on this campus, FYCARE programs have strived to curb the growth of sexual assault or eliminate the culture of it. There’s no way to reliably assess whether FYCARE’s programming is effective because so many cases of sexual assault go unreported.

At the very least, we can surmise that without the program, there would be no formal University-sponsored strategy to address sexual assault.

Although the number of reported cases at the University has hovered around 10-12 cases per year for the last three years, that doesn’t mean sexual assault isn’t prevalent. Those numbers may at first seem low simply because for every reported case, as many as three or four go unreported.

To help inform more students and to try to speak better to them about the issue of sexual assault, the program’s coordinators made major adjustments to the script used by discussion facilitators. All incoming freshmen and transfer students must attend.

They at last introduced gender-neutral scenarios in addition to the typical male and female scenarios.

A report published by The Daily Illini last week about FYCARE’s changes explained that the alterations are intended to dispel common, but incorrect, assumptions about sexual assault and rape. This change will help to eliminate insensitive treatment that students have felt for years after attending the program.

FYCARE has been criticized for a long time, no doubt.

The common complaints students cite for their discomfort is that they felt perpetrator of sexual assault.

From what we now know about sexual assault, it affects everyone. Anyone can be a victim. Still, there’s no circumventing the gendered nature of the crime.

Based on the reported cases available, sexual assault often involves a man attacking a woman. That said, both men and women are sexually assaulted. People young and old are raped. People with every skin color are raped.

We hope that the introduction of the gender-neutral scenarios will spark more discussion about sexual assault. We hope that this helps FYCARE facilitators to implement a more fair program about sexual assault.

If persistent, these changes should encourage a more open discussion about sexual assault so that we might reduce the crime’s prevalence.