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One in four. According to the New York State Coalition Against Assault, that’s the number of college women who will be a victim of sexual assault in their academic career. One in four.
The Harbinger staff is primarily female. On our staff of almost 80 people, 75 percent is female. That means, according to statistics by the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault, 15 of us Harbie girls will be victims of sexual assault during our academic careers.
That number is way too high. And it scares us.
This is our last issue of the year, and in a couple of months a number of us will be heading off to college. We’re excited about meeting new people, about joining clubs, about learning about things that we love. Our excitement should not be marred by a fear of abuse, molestation and rape.
To the boys heading to college: you have a duty to help stop this from happening. This is a situation where you have to be aggressive in your morals. Do not stand idly by and watch your friends become perpetrators. Do not make jokes about assault. They aren’t funny, and every time you make a rape joke, you unknowingly lose the trust of a female in your life. And if you or a friend becomes a victim, do not be ashamed. Find the courage to reach out for help.
To the girls heading to college: take care of one another. Take care of your friends and your sorority sisters. Take care of upperclassmen and underclassmen alike. And take care of strangers, of that girl in the corner at a party who is being bugged by a guy who just won’t go away. It shouldn’t have to be your job to watch out for one another, but when your chances of assault are one in four, you have no other choice.
To the college administrators: take this issue seriously. If a student comes to you, and tells you they have become a victim of sexual assault — do not take their experience lightly, do not tell them they are lying, exaggerating or attention-seeking. Make sure the assailant is punished under the full extent of the law, do not allow them to get away scot-free. Give the victim the support they need and treat them with the dignity they deserve.
And to the entirety of our East family: it’s down to us to make a difference. In a survey of high school students, 56 percent of girls and 76 percent of boys believed forced sex was acceptable under some circumstances. Teach your children, teach your brothers and sisters and friends that we will not tolerate this in our community. These statistics are not going to change unless we change the culture causing them.
Votes For: 12 Votes Against: 0 Absent: 2