by Zhanna Kutsenkova
One in five. One in five female undergraduate students have been a victim of some form of sexual assault. This shocking statistic may be a serious warning for college campuses across the nation to take action.
April marks the fourth annual commemoration of Sexual Assault Awareness Month and it is important to examine how increasing knowledge and awareness could help prevent the commonality of sexual assault across U.S. college campuses. While there are no proven methods as of yet, colleges have the opportunity to educate and engage their students about the topic early on. Bay Area organizations, such as Community Violence Solutions (CVS), work to present the subject as effectively as possible. DeAnna Schlau of CVS highly qualifies the method of separating groups by gender, “It is very effective to separate boys and girls, because then they can discuss gender roles and expectations, men are able to deconstruct and identify what it means to hold power and girls can discuss femininity, how they see themselves and how society sees them.”
Schlau recommends holding these seminars annually, especially for incoming students. Sexual assaults that are happening on campus notably are happening early in the school year, making fall semester a prime time for presentations. However, in order to prevent instances of sexual assault on campus, the administration must present realistic scenarios to its students. It is vital that colleges create a comfortable space for students to discuss their concerns and experiences, while equipping them with useful information they can implement to ensure their safety. Instead of blaming alcohol consumption for example, constructing safety plans such as not leaving drinks unattended, or not leaving without one's group, would provide a pragmatic approach to enjoying college life without disregarding one’s safety.