The emails with subjects like “Crime Alert: Wanted for Rape/Sexual Assault/Gross Sexual Imposition” have become almost routine to Ohio University students this semester. In 2016, Ohio University was reported to have the highest rate of sexual assault reports across the five major colleges and universities across the state at 46 incidents. In a survey of 1,350 students, the Presidential Advisory Committee on Sexual Misconduct found that 82 percent of students had experienced some sort of unwanted sexual misconduct while at the university.
With staggering numbers such as those, it can begin to feel like the university isn’t doing enough to combat the rape culture that is so prevalent in Athens. When combined with the recent reports of Ohio University alumni Matt Lauer being accused of sexual misconduct, it begins to feel like it may be a longer standing issue then what we might think.
According to the PACSM, there are 10 goals the university wants to take on in the future. These include ideas such as:
- Developing and evaluating a systematic sexual misconduct prevention plan.
- Reviewing of current policy, training, education and prevention efforts directed toward faculty and staff.
- Increasing effort and resources to be provided to address the disparities in victimization rates for sexual and gender minorities.
- Greater work needs to be done to ensure that students are receiving and retaining information about resources on our campus to address sexual misconduct and relationship violence.
Clearly, the university has the right idea about what needs to be done. But to keep it from sliding under the radar, Ohio students cannot become numb and complacent. If we do not continue to speak up and ask for a change as a whole, the problems will either take longer to be fixed or never get solved at all. Here’s what you can do as a student:
- Go to a POWER/GAMMA event or a Better Bystanders workshop. Both are great workshopping activities for student orgs, and there are many ways to get involved in the programs themselves. Power begins with programming.
- Talk to Women’s Affairs at OU about their initiative to improve lighting around campus.
- Contact the university to be directed to who at that level handles the goals for PACSM, and talk to them about the importance of increasing the safety of this campus and changing the culture as a whole.