While it may not seem customary, when considering college choices, personal safety is an important component to research. The number of sexual assaults at a college is something for both male and female students to consider when looking at colleges. According to the statistics at www.rainn.org, which have been gathered from the National Crime Victimization Survey conducted by the Justice Department, “11.2% of all students, [male or female], experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.” Evidently, this is not a matter of opinion or political ideology, sexual assault on college campuses is an indisputable epidemic. These statistics beg many questions: why is it that there are two sexual assaults on college women for every one robbery? (www.rainn.org) Why do more than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses stay silent? (www.nsvrc.org).
To get to the bottom of why sexual assault on college campuses is such a problem, I offer the argument that it is the mentality, the notion that college students are entitled to absolution, that sometimes comes along with becoming a college student. When one goes off to college, suddenly there is a wave of freedom, and without having been taught properly about consent in high school, how can students be expected to know when they are crossing a line? Enforcing the teaching of consent in a space where consent is not seen as a joke, but where it is talked about profoundly and openly is definitely a place to start.
More specifically, we must reinforce the fact that people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol are not able to give consent. Think of it like this: when one is under the influence, it is illegal for them to drive a car because they are a danger to themselves and others. The same can be said about having sex with someone. When you or they are deemed too drunk to operate a car, you clearly aren’t in the right mindset to have consensual sex. You are no longer able to make the same coherent decisions as you might when you are sober. According to a study cited by the Washington Post, “[college] women who say they sometimes or often drink more than they should are twice as likely to be victims of completed, attempted, or suspected sexual assaults as those who rarely or never drink.” This isn’t to say that the victim of a sexual assault is to blame if they had had too much to drink; rather, it should be common sense for anyone that if a person is intoxicated, they do not have the ability to give consent. Furthermore, just because someone doesn’t say “no” explicitly, this does not mean that they are consenting.
In the end, while the problem of sexual assault on college campuses is being discussed more and more, a solution is something you don’t always hear. While spreading awareness is obviously very important and crucial to igniting change, it is only half the battle. We need to stop assaults at their core and teach consent more thoroughly.