Starting the conversation

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Also written with Charlie Weber

First semester freshman year. A time of parties, alcohol, drugs and hook-ups. It’s the college norm, especially at SMU. This “hook-up culture” has become more regular than relationships. Instead of the classic dinner and a movie, we get the dance floor make outs and the 2 a.m. text: “Hey, I’m drunk. Come over.”

Most come to college with this pre-conceived notion that life is going to be like MTV. Wild parties and drunken one-night stands. If Snooki can do it, why can’t we? But the reality of this culture is that anytime someone is drunk or high, they legally cannot consent to any form of sexual conduct.

In college, that seems impossible. How are you supposed to meet Mr./Mrs. Right when there are all these rules about what you can and cannot do? I’m really supposed to go to a party with my significant other, have a few drinks, shake hands and say “Goodnight?”

In the fall of 2012, multiple sexual assaults were reported to the SMU Police. People freaked out, students were scared to walk by themselves at night and SMU was under a lot of criticism. President R. Gerald Turner implemented a task force of administrators, faculty, staff and a few students to combat sexual misconduct. The task force presented 41 suggestions to President Turner, all of which were accepted.

A year and a half later, it seems nothing has been done. A task force against sexual misconduct appears as a giant cover-up of the truth of all the sexual assaults on campus. Although there have been no reports of sexual assaults this semester, it’s still happening, just no one is reporting it. Why?

We don’t think it’s because of a lack of support on campus. Students have taken many initiatives to make the conversation of sexual assaults easier, but support isn’t the issue.

You can have all the support in the world, but knowing the abuser makes it harder to report. According to a national study of college students done by Dr. M.P. Koss, 84 percent of women know their assailant, meaning it’s either a significant other, friend or a casual acquaintance. The fact is that assaults by someone the victim knows are the least likely to be reported. Who wants to go tattle-tale on someone they know and potentially ruin their life? The sad truth is only one in 10 incidents of rape are
actually reported.

And it makes sense. Why would I want to go ruin someone’s life and feel guilty about it when I already feel the responsibility of letting it happen? But it’s not the victim’s fault, and we tend to forget that key fact.

Education on sexual assaults and unhealthy relationships isn’t being communicated. We think our culture is like “The Real World.” You have a couple of drinks, fool around with that person next door and things go too far. All you hear from your friends is: “You shouldn’t have been that stupid and gotten that drunk.”

We believe in the good on our campus and that students here can truly make a difference in rape culture.

So, let’s change it. Whether it’s discovering new and different ways to educate students or creating settings where students can have serious discussions with their peers, let’s change the culture. Set personal boundaries, know your limits, start
the conversation.

Esaili is a junior majoring in journalism and Weber is a sophomore majoring in accounting.

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