VCU, We Need To Talk
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Politics and Activism

VCU, We Need To Talk

Sexual assault is far too common and taken far too lightly, even at VCU

VCU, We Need To Talk

To start off, this whole article comes with a trigger warning for sexual assault. It’s an issue that every college campus is overly familiar with, and VCU is no exception. Let’s also be clear that the vast majority of us are aware that consent is absolutely necessary, and rape isn’t okay. So now that the basics are out of the way, let’s ask the question: why does sexual assault still dominate our college campuses?

I don’t know anyone who openly supported Brock Turner, because I don’t make it a priority to surround myself with people who sympathize with rapists. At VCU especially you’d find a shortage of people like that- and yet, rape persists. Many have been noting the recent influx of VCU alerts regarding sexual assault/battery. Just in the last 10 days we’ve had 3 reported incidents, and make no mistake- the vast majority of incidents go completely unreported. This is following revisions of Title IX policies put into place at VCU following investigations after gross mishandling of reported cases. I’d propose that rape culture is casually perpetuated all over our campus and, even in our liberal bubble, fosters an environment in which sexual assault can thrive.

Firstly, there seems to be a lot of misinformation regarding rape. Just going off of what I’ve heard said to me and around me, there are quite a few people who think that false reporting is a prominent issue, that there’s some kind of balance between false and founded reports of rape. Especially on college campuses, that’s just untrue If you haven’t seen The Hunting Ground, I highly recommend it. Oftentimes the process for reporting a sexual assault is arduous and traumatic, and no justice is served. Think critically: do you really, truly think someone who has not experienced something horrifying would willingly put themselves through that? That that’s a scenario that happens often? More often than not, the opposite is true, and people don’t report their assault due to the doubt so often cast on victims in these cases. None of this is speculation, or hypothetical- this happens here at VCU all the time.

Making light of rape and rape culture also aids in this epidemic. Take, for example, this image depicting one member of the VCU community's response to recent reports of sexual battery and assault:

When you’re the one actually reporting being assaulted, when you are the person who has been manhandled and disrespected, it’s really not a joke. I get it, I truly do, that it’s such a stereotype to get worked up over jokes, but hear me out. These aren’t just jokes. Acts like this chip away at the trust that is needed in a community in order for a victim to step forward. The mindset behind posts and statements like this is truly everywhere- the number of times I’ve heard someone jokingly screech “Rape!” while messing around with friends, the casual demeaning name-calling of women who dress or act in a particular fashion when going out, the people I’ve seen laughing or rolling their eyes at the dramatic posters we see around campus regarding sexual assault- it’s so easy to recognize, and so easy to go along with.

A friend recently went through such a traumatic experience. People on the street hooted and whistled when her assaulter walked past with her in tow, and his friends jokingly called out “He’s a legend!” when he left with her. To those outside of the interaction it was casual, it was funny, and it was utterly forgettable. This is a call-out, VCU: we aren’t any better than the rest. It’s going to take a visible effort from our community and a dramatic change in mindset before we see progress. VCU, take these new Title IX policies, take the intentions with which they were put forth, see the reality we can achieve on our campus, and make it real.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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