Editorial: rape on campus

rape-editorial-9-22-16

Rape.

Just like last week’s editorial about suicide, it’s a topic that usually carries a stigma and a weight not often born by many. How does one talk about rape? How does one go about reporting a rape? How does one recover from a rape? How does one help someone else recover from a rape?

The experience, which may be foreign to some and unthinkable to others, is a devastating fact, as well as an unwelcome presence on college campuses throughout the nation. But let’s face it. Literally – let’s start the conversation about rape.

On Tech’s campus, there hasn’t been much of an issue getting the conversation started. The Red Flag Campaign, championed each year by Julie Mikles-Schluterman, associate sociology professor, is solely focused on bringing attention to dating violence. According to its website, the RFC “uses a bystander intervention strategy to address and prevent sexual assault, dating violence and stalking on college campuses.”

On Tech’s campus, the 2014 security act report, produced and distributed by the Department of Public Safety, read there was one reported “forcible sex offense” in an on-campus facility last year.

Nationally, though, the numbers tell a different story.

The Huffington Post reported this January about a study that “an average of 21 percent of female undergraduates at the unnamed colleges and universities told researchers they had been sexually assaulted since starting their higher education. One in four female seniors reported being sexually assaulted in their undergraduate years, with the rate ranging from a high of one in two at some of the schools that were studied to a low of one in eight.”

The Washington Post reported a condensed version of a national security survey this June. The beginning of the article reads, “nearly 100 colleges and universities had at least 10 reports of rape on their main campuses in 2014, according to federal campus safety data, with Brown University and the University of Connecticut tied for the highest annual total — 43 each.” The story, as well as the data collected from the aforementioned 100 colleges and universities, can be found at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2016/06/07/these-colleges-have-the-most-reports-of-rape/.

What can be done should a victim come forward, seeking medical attention?

Rebecca Gray, director of health services at the Health and Wellness Center, said in an email the HWC offers several different options for victims.

“The Health and Wellness Center does off-campus counseling for victims of sexual assault as well as sexually transmitted infection testing and papsmear testing, should the victim wish to have these tests done,” Gray said. “These tests are free of charge to the victim.”

While the HWC doesn’t offer the commonly known rape kit, it is outfitted with four counselors.

“Our counselors can provide confidential counseling to students who may need it,” Gray said.

Aside from immediate care, the HWC center also provides outreach programs; sexual assault information will be at Chambers Cafeteria on Oct. 26 and sexual health week will take place in February.

Victims, past and present, are encouraged to come forward and seek the help they need, be it medical attention, counseling or otherwise.