As a student leader, I have received countless hours of training on sexual assault, but that alone is not what the university needs. I understand the ins and outs of consent and talking to sexual assault survivors, but that is also not going to change campus culture. Sexual assault training is not just important for student staff. With spring break fast approaching, I am reminded that keeping each other safe is a community effort. We should be addressing sexual assault together as the Wolf Pack.
Fact: The majority of sexual assault our student peers experience happens off campus.
Fact: 33 percent of perpetrators say both parties were drinking at the time.
These aren’t national statistics; these are from our university’s Sexual Conduct and Campus Safety Survey last year.
That’s why all of us should be talking about bystander intervention. Anyone could be the bystander who saves someone. Also, sexual assault can be subversive. Confrontation is hard. However, this confrontation may be easier if it involves someone you personally know or someone who is too intoxicated that they can’t speak for themselves. It’s a lot harder when someone just seems tipsy. It’s harder when someone is coming off as slightly too persistent. Our student body needs to know how to check in. Sometimes asking, “Hey, could I talk to you alone?” or “Are you doing OK?” can make all the difference.
Fact: When a Nevada student is assaulted and they decide to tell someone, they usually tell a close friend. Very few tell residence hall staff or other faculty.
All of us should learn how to talk with a survivor. Sexual assault can happen to anyone, regardless of gender or status. We as a community need to understand the importance of saying the right thing. It’s frightening to come out about sexual assault, so it’s important we aren’t perpetuating rape myths. Sexual assault is not a matter of gender, who was wearing what or if the survivor “put themselves in that situation.”
Fact: Students who think alcohol “facilitates sexual opportunities” are less likely to support bystander intervention and are less likely to engage in appropriate sexual conduct.
All of us should have a clear definition of consent. Understanding consent helps us check in with others and ourselves. Being confident in that definition makes us a better resource to those in need.
When I was a freshman, I didn’t have a clear understanding of consent. Nobody told me that the media’s version of college, where sex and alcohol are synonymous, was wrong. It took training. That’s where I learned how to intervene, how to talk to a survivor and how to ensure there was consent. We need to have this conversation sooner.
The university has done a lot since I started here. Every year, the students I meet know more about what it means to obtain consent. Tackling this conversation at orientation does wonders. However, we need a constant conversation. As a community, we need to develop confidence in our ability to call for consent when we don’t see it.
That’s why we need campaigns like Yes! Always. Consentress is the embodiment of confidence in our ability to help others and take control of our lives.
We need strangers who know how to intervene, friends who know how to talk about it and a community that knows what consent is. Spring break is almost here, and we need to keep this conversation going. All year. Please, Wolf Pack, watch out for each other. Let’s keep our community safe.
Hayley Hanger studies BLANK. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.