Seniors Discuss Sexual Assault
by Catie Wise on Friday, February 20th, 2015
Whether we feel comfortable talking about it or not, sexual assault on college campuses occurs fairly often. According to “statistics… compiled by the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault” as reported by SLC.edu, “at least 1 in 4 college women will be the victim of a sexual assault during her academic career.”
Such a sexual assault incident occurred relatively recently at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. A July 12, 2014 New York Times article recounts the story of Anna, an 18-year-old freshman who was sexually assaulted two times in one night. The accused football players were subsequently cleared after an investigation and hearing, and they continued with their season and “[finished] undefeated in their conference.” Meanwhile, Anna was forced to endure the aftermath. According to the same article, “students who say they were assaulted must make a choice: Seek help from their school, turn to the criminal justice system, or simply remain silent.”
Ms. Morin, the director of counseling here at Milton, says on the topic of sexual assault on college campuses, “It is definitely an important thing to talk about during our time here at Milton because the rate of women being sexually assaulted on college campuses is very high.” The California Affirmative Consent Law states what it means to have full “consent.” As stated by leginfo.legislature.CA.gov, “It is the responsibility of each person involved in the sexual activity to ensure that he or she has the affirmative consent of the other or others to engage in the sexual activity. Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time.”
In relation to the Affirmative Consent Law, Ms. Morin brought up the phrase “no means no” and how she feels it is very outdated. She says, “the phrase ‘no means no’ puts the responsibility on a potential victim to say no to any sexual advance, and this obligation creates a power difference. The phrase should actually be ‘yes means yes,’ because this would mean that the person making the sexual advances, whether male or female, would actively be seeking an active yes, and that search would be every step of the way.”
Each year at Milton Academy, students are required to take some form of an affective education course. Seniors must take Senior Transitions, which is taught by all of the college counselors along with a few other teachers. Mr. Skinner, the head of the Senior Transitions course, discussed the idea of “the red zone.” He says “it is fairly new in the field of research, but it is the time when a student is most likely to be sexually assaulted during their time in college. The red zone happens to be the first semester freshmen year, and any time around exams, breaks, or any kind of lull in the action in terms of school life. This tells us that the freshmen are considered vulnerable and easy prey, which is where the awareness factor comes in.” When crafting their curriculum, Senior Transitions teachers need to try finding the balance between not making college seem scary while discussing this upsetting information.
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