Last week, the editorial board for my college’s newspaper published an editorial telling the administration to improve their policy regarding sexual assault. A student had reported a sexual assault that occurred 11 days prior to her report and no one on campus was notified because it was deemed “untimely.”
During my first year of college, the documentary "The Hunting Ground" premiered and affected student activism all over the country. Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame were a large part of the documentary, so I participated on panels, and I went to events and walks about sexual assault mishandlings. This continued into my sophomore year, where we hosted more panels and more discussions.
I’ve written articles and I’ve read countless pieces about sexual assault. I’ve spoken with students and faculty and people in general. My conclusion? Why the hell do I still have to write about this?
Rape culture has gotten bad. People still question the victim. We have politicians saying that a female body can shut down and not get pregnant because it knows it’s rape. We have people caring more about the fact that a rapist spent three months in jail for “20 minutes of action” than we do for the girl who was assaulted while unconscious behind a dumpster. We have people who still will not acknowledge that men can be raped — by a man or a woman.
I’m really tired. I’m tired of having the same discussions and coming to the same conclusions and having people still think this isn’t an issue or as large of an issue as it is. I want to live in a world where people feel like they can report because they know their institution or local law enforcement will do the right thing, not just meet the lowest, and frankly inadequate requirements.
Is it too much to ask for an institution that actually values the people who are part of it? Is it too much to ask for a world where if someone is unconscious or too drunk to be coherent, we help get them to safety instead of taking advantage? On the flip side, is it too much to ask for a world where even the small amount of false reports don’t happen so that the question of whether or not someone is lying never has to come up?
I don’t think this is too much to ask for. It’s never the victim’s fault. Rapists can have great swim records and go to Ivy League schools, but if they commit a crime, they deserve a punishment. The school should have informed the student body that an assault occurred because 11 days doesn’t mean the perpetrator is finished assaulting — especially when most rapists will commit six rapes on average.
Every school should hold people accountable. Every law enforcer should as well. Every person should create an environment of support for survivors of sexual assault, and everyone should work to end rape culture.
I’m tired of having this discussion. We’re moving in the right direction, but come on, it’s 2016.