EDITOR’S NOTE: This column was presented in the Sept. 2, 2014 print edition of The Daily Wildcat as part of a “head-to-head” feature on the Opinion page. These were companion columns addressing an important campus issue and not intended to be read separately. To read the companion piece click here.
The start of every school year is an exciting time. You are starting or continuing your college career. You’re out on your own. You are back among your friends whom you’ve missed all summer, or you’re making new ones in the dorms and in your classes. The football team is still undefeated, and basketball season is right around the corner.
This is also the time of the year when many young Wildcats are discovering that their tolerance for alcohol isn’t quite what they thought it was, and they find themselves in regrettable positions. The effects of alcohol can sneak up on anyone, but they shouldn’t excuse people from responsibility for their actions.
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According to a 2007 study that was conducted at two large, but unnamed, universities for the Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice, one in five women will be sexually assaulted while attending college. College is full of drinking and meeting new people.
Put another way: College is full of being vulnerable around strangers. When stated like that, it seems like something you’d want to avoid, no?
Only 6.6 percent of women who smoke will develop lung cancer. A woman who smokes is more than three times as likely to be sexually assaulted than she is to develop lung cancer. We turn our noses up at smokers and just made our campus tobacco-free. Yet, nothing is done about sexual assault, short of blaming the “attacker,” a guy who was likely as drunk as his “victim.” We do everything we can to mitigate the small risk of lung cancer, but nothing at all to mitigate the much greater risk of sexual assault.
We all make mistakes, and we all want to be understood, consoled and forgiven, but there’s a double standard here, and it needs to be addressed.
If drunk women who have sex are able to claim “rape,” why aren’t drunk men alleviated of responsibility for the poor decisions they make?
There’s an old saying that reads, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” We lock our bikes and label food in the fridge because we don’t want them to be stolen. When something of ours is stolen, we blame ourselves, saying “I left it out!” or something to that effect.
Girls — go out in groups, keep an eye on each other, designate a driver. And bring your common sense. When it’s 2 a.m. and a guy invites you to his room, it isn’t to show you his baseball card collection. Plan ahead. Tell your girlfriends whether or not you plan to or want to hook up that night.
Yes, some guys are wolves in sheep’s clothing, but you can greatly reduce the risks of being assaulted with a little foresight. Make a plan at 7 p.m. so you aren’t making accusations at 7 a.m.
Before anyone stomps their feet in outrage and says I’m blaming victims here, ask yourselves: Is it not better to exercise some caution beforehand and not have to blame anyone?
—Rob Monteleone is a general studies senior. Follow him @MONTMAN9500