According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one in three women and nearly one in four men have experienced sexual violence involving physical contact in their lives. One in five women and one in 38 men have experienced completed or attempted rape in their lives.
Your eyes just glazed over those numbers, didn’t they? Or maybe you thought about the cups of tea you were told not to give freshman year? Discussion surrounding sexual assault has become such a reality in our generation that you probably knew those numbers off the top of your head. But, we have to remember that those numbers are actual people, people who were made victims to their own bodies. People who were thrown off their course to deal with unexpected trauma that was no fault of their own. People who were called liars for standing up for themselves, or forced to stay silent given the possible consequences.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. As one walks around campus, they might notice a poster or two defining consent and listing statistics. Student organizations man tables next to our Dragon statue, doling out T-shirts for awareness. We are encouraged to participate in “Teal Tuesdays” to show our support for victims. Students participate; some with care, others out of obligation, and many for free merch. Yet do any of these (sometimes empty) gestures change the unfortunate reality?
In this Drexel bubble, it can be hard to feel like any issue really affects us. Students are so disconnected from each other between busy schedules and different co-op cycles that it can be hard to create a sense of community. But this pandemic of people not keeping their hands to themselves didn’t simply skip over our bubble. Sexual assault very much exists within this campus as well. It is time to be sincere in getting involved, supporting peers, and showing up.
Efforts such as “Teal Tuesday” are a great start in sparking discussions about sexual assault on campus. As students, it is up to us to sincerely engage in them, for more than just a free T-shirt. There are many events taking place on campus this month to stimulate deeper discussion.
The “Memento” exhibit, as mentioned in the News section, is a stunning exhibit to visit in the James E. Marks Intercultural Center.
Tarana Burke, initiator of the “Me Too” movement and survivor of sexual assault herself, is being hosted by the school at Mitchell Auditorium the evening of April 26th.
There is also a lunch-and-learn “How to Support a Survivor” event on April 29, recommended for those looking to understand how to be an ally.
As part of World Dragon Week, the “Where’s My Voice?” panel will dive into international students and students of color being disproportionately affected by sexual violence.
The Office of Equality and Diversity is also collaborating with fraternities and sororities for a “Not a Bystander: Sexual Violence Awareness” panel this month as well.
It might be uncomfortable for some to attend such events, but think about the reality a survivor faces. The least one can do is show up. And most importantly, don’t be a bystander.