Stop reading this now if in any way, shape, or form you are a devout follower of the status quo when it comes to dealing with sexual assault on campus as we currently know it. The status quo, for those of you that might be wondering, is the widespread belief that colleges across the US are trying their ‘best’ and their ‘hardest’ to stop the epidemic that has become sexual assault on their campuses.
Good. This indicates that you don’t care for the status quo and/or may have encountered someone who has dealt with sexual assault on his or her college campus.
Recently, sexual assault has taken front and center stage at my campus following recent student incidences. Of course, now that something bad has happened, administration and student leadership feel compelled to act.
Isn’t that interesting?
Perhaps universities have trouble dealing with sexual assault on campus because they feel compelled to ‘save face.’ They insist on reassuring parents and students alike to ensure that all we thought we knew about the thousands of dollars we pour into these institutions is legitimate.
I was recently sitting with my friend prior to our anatomy class talking about recent happenings on campus that have sparked fierce debate about our universities policies. I am what some may call ‘deeply involved’ in our campuses student government; however, the sad part is that my friend, as an ‘outsider,’ knew more about the realities of sexual assault on our campus than I did. While I do follow the happenings on our campus, I had been told about what ‘happened’ but I was given a bleached version of the reality.
Therein lies the problem.
I think, for most schools, this particular problem is not uncommon. Administrators are quick to blame students and probe their student bodies but slow to realize that perhaps the real blame should be placed on them. I am not saying our administrators are all bad people or that they are thoroughly corrupt. What I am saying is that if you don’t clean the ice maker in your fridge frequently enough, the ice and water you drink will inevitably have mold in it whether you like it or not.
The current rules and policies at most colleges and universities across the country are outdated and do not explicitly address the nuances that come with the meaning of consent as it has evolved today. Most university policies will say that quiet resistance or alcohol essentially indicates that a woman is ‘consenting’.
The fact of the matter is that consent should follow a simple rule: “‘Yes’ means yes. ‘No’ means no.” Anything besides a verbal “yes” is a NO. University policies and administration have to clean up their act when it comes to outdated consent policies; they are not only causing an immense amount of pain and hurt to victims when they refuse to address the realities that true consent entails.
The status quo of ‘dealing’ with sexual assault, particularly within university administration, is all too commonly dealt with using big words and small actions. Administrators send long emails and heavily worded statements about their dismay of such actions on campus only to brush the aftermath of it under the rug as quickly as humanly possible. This is done solely to save the school’s name and to keep the tuition money flowing.
Here is the reality: if there is money to be made and a school’s reputation to uphold, the possibility for change at any individual institution is nearly impossible. There has to be action taken by all schools across the nation to stand in solidarity with those who have been victims of sexual assault in order to dispel this modern-day epidemic. A nationwide referendum is essential for all institutions of higher education to come together and address this issue at a more urgent level.