Student body must make real changes to stop sexual assaults


Kelsey Thatcher, Contributor

On college campuses, 13% of students will experience rape or sexual assault. Both undergraduate and graduate students are at risk of experiencing this violence. We must bring awareness to sexual assault and abuse on our campus to reduce the amount of violence. Even though we are required to take computer training at the start of every school year, students still get emails about sexual assaults occurring—only the ones that are reported. Of people who are assaulted on a campus, only about 20% of them make a report to law enforcement. Most of the people making reports are female. We, as the student body, must make a change to make students on campus safe. 

Instead of mandating that students complete the online sexual assault training, that is very easy to skip through, we need to create a better system to inform students about the severity of sexual assault. Students who are in their first and second semesters of college especially need to know the risks of sexual assault because they are the most vulnerable population. Just because a student is a senior, does not mean they should not take sexual assault seriously. Anyone on campus is a target for sexual assault and it is most likely to happen from people that we know and trust. An in-person, interactive simulation is the best way to get students involved, but for them to also pay attention. The “Boxes and Walls” experience that is mandated to do as incoming freshman is a great example of how to create an event that catches the attention and emotions of students on campus. 

I propose that the student body and administration creates an interactive experience like “Boxes and Walls” based around sexual assault. In this simulation there will be certain stages for students to be educated about. First, students will be able to see the interactions between two individuals and how it can lead to more intimate behavior. Following this we can talk to students about the importance of consent and how it is important to not force yourself onto someone. Lastly, I would like to show students the affects that experiencing a sexual assault can have on a person, both mentally and physically. The final stage will include the emotions and symptoms that victims commonly face after an assault. While it is very important to see the affects a victim faces, I also want to show the side of the abuser after an assault. It is very common for perpetrators to go on with their daily lives like nothing ever happened. For the perpetrators out there, they should be able to see the hurt the victim is going through while they just continue with life. While the training UW-W students currently must complete to bring awareness to sexual violence, it does not reach the emotions of the students to create change. To create change, people first must care enough to want to change. Therefore, I encourage our campus to create an interactive event for students to dig deeper and realize that sexual assault is happening on our campus, and our students are the only ones who can do something to stop it.