By Meredith Schellin
One in five female college students are victims of sexual assault, according to a Department of Justice report. Ninety percent of victims knew their attacker and are generally assaulted within their first year of college, according to the Washington Post.
In response to these statics, President Obama announced a new campaign last week called, “It’s On Us,” which is part of a multi-pronged effort to stop the sexual violence epidemic taking place on college campuses across the country. “White House officials say that the campaign called, ‘It’s On Us,’ will challenge everyone on campuses to see sexual assault as their personal responsibility to prevent, but will particularly target male students,” reported the Associated Press.
As a part of this initiative, the government has developed a website called NotAlone.org, which is a web database of resources dedicated to aiding students’ fight against sexual assault. This site provides ways for people to file a complaint, learn how to spot a potential assault situation, and find a crisis service center.
In addition to providing online assistance, video campaigns have begun to circulate on social media sites and will begin to air on television during heavily viewed programs. These videos star a cast of Hollywood’s most prominent members along with Vice President Biden and President Obama.
“It’s On Us” sounds like it is taking a step in the right direction. The more people know the more they are aware. But, awareness can only do so much. Are informative websites, videos with popular celebrities, the President and governmental guidance really going to end sexual assault? I don’t think so.
Informing the public is great. Reminding the public of this prevalent issue through social media platforms is important and providing on-campus guidance is a step towards changing the problem, however, this cannot and will not be an end-all solution because our generation is struggling with much deeper issues.
We are a generation that is desperately trying to find love and satisfaction in all the wrong places. Elite Daily wrote an article referring to our generation as the “hook-up culture,” stating that we casually hook-up, rape, and manipulate one another because we do not understand what it means to be in love with another person, nor are we willing to take the time to do so.
Not only do we seek validation and satisfaction from other people, we are a culture with entitlement issues. As a generation we want what we want, when we want it. Now it seems as though we have resulted into putting people in that category as well. People are feeling entitled to take from others what is not theirs to take without thinking twice. They only think about themselves in that moment and not about the lasting effect it will have on the other person they have chosen to satisfy their entitlement issues with.
If we are so disillusioned about love and feel so entitled that our generation has resulted to attacking each other to fill unattainable voids, how do we, as not only members of this culture but also a part of the larger collegiate community, begin to scratch the surface of this huge problem of sexual assault on college campuses nationwide?
One of the easiest things we can do is take time to realize that we have the responsibility to care about the people around us, especially as a Christian community. Our culture is desperately seeking love, validation and acceptance from every direction. If we paused and took time to treat people with dignity and respect like they deserve instead of just focusing on ourselves we could take part in creating much healthier, stable relationships.
Another thing we can do as a collegiate community is hold one another accountable. Our actions have consequences, whether that is being a bystander and letting something happen to someone else or choosing to intervene in a situation.
We also need to stop blaming the victims of sexual assault and realize regardless of where they were, who they were with, how much they had to drink or what they were wearing. They did not give consent in this situation and the last thing they need is for us to cast judgment upon them.
This new national mandate will certainly help this issue. It will generate awareness to this problem that plagues campuses across the nation. However, it is not until we step up as students and start to recognize our deeper problems as a generation that this deeply rooted issue will begin its long road to some sort of resolution.