It’s said that strength comes in numbers. I see this statement becomes no clearer than in discussions of preventing sexual assault here on campus. Sure, situations of sexual assault are often between two people and often alone. But preventing incidents of sexual assault here on campus requires a mentality of many.
Yes, strength comes in numbers, and in situations where you’re standing up to a friend, or telling someone that, youknowwhat?, their rape comment just wasn’t funny, or criticizing images of rape taken too lightly in the media, or even yourself saying no—or saying “Is this okay?” and asking for consent— it’s important to know that you’re not alone in your struggle, your fight, your mission, your whatever to prevent sexual assault. You’re part of a team of people who feel the exact same way.
Sure, sometimes doing these things—asking for consent or calling out a friend making some predatory advances—doesn’t feel the “coolest” (it should, though). And sometimes we might hesitate, or not speak up or speak out or let things go our let ourselves and our anti-sexual-assault views go.
This campus has had its fair share of scars regarding sexual assault policies and practices on campus. But throughout all the pain, a group of dedicated and committed individuals has emerged dedicated to this goal of preventing sexual assault on campus. If that means in a concrete way—like a support circle for survivors or a one-inch “Not On Our Campus” button—so be it. For me, it’s more knowing that there exists a group of people similarly committed this goal of a sexual-assault-free Carleton, who I know would back me up in my decisions and actions advocating against sexual assault. Where are these faces? At the SpeakUp, at the discussions involving sexual assault, but more importantly, they are—we are, you are, we all are—at your parties, in your dorm lounges, on the floor of Sayles dances.
A safer Carleton won’t necessarily come in the boardrooms and policy meetings (although these are important). It comes from us. And if preventing a culture of sexual assault in your peers or your floormates or even your friends or that guy/girl you drunkenly hooked up with last weekend or yourself might feel uncomfortable, you’re not alone. You’re not alone that it might feel uncomfortable, but moreover, you’re not alone in trying to prevent this dangerous culture of it being “okay” to sexually assault our classmates.
And here’s where the Pledge Against Sexual Violence comes in (which can be found on those teal cards around campus or http://apps.carleton.edu/campus/gsc/hs_svp/pledge/). Crafted, edited and fine-tuned by Carleton students just like you or me to combat sexual assault and violence on campus, committing to the pledge is one that we all can take as a first step. And looking at the many names (soon to be on a banner in Sayles) who have likewise taken this first (or fifteenth) step against sexual assault leaves me with the clear feeling that I stand alone in trying to do my part to change sexual assault and acquaintance rape on campus. We wouldn’t tolerate violence against our classmates or friends in any other context. Let’s fix what’s broken in the culture of sexual violence, and it’s up to each of us to take the first step.