It is no secret that the the University’s party culture has its flaws. According to research from Associate Professor of Psychology Bill Flack, 40 percent of females at the University experience sexual assault at some point in their college careers. Think about that for a second. Four out of every 10 girls that live on your hall, walk to class with you, and become your friends have been taken advantage of on this campus. This realization is not only scary, but absolutely unacceptable. Still, when I read this statistic I was not at all surprised. The University’s party culture facilitates these assaults and they occur more frequently than people would think.
A major reason why the University’s party culture facilitates these assaults is because of the power fraternities hold over partygoers. The fraternities have the houses and control the location, the type of alcohol served, the people let into the party, what happens at the party, etc. The girls literally only bring their bodies. This division in responsibilities in the party scene creates a strange atmosphere in which guys choose girls to dance and hook up with, and often control how far they go. Sexual assault commonly occurs in these types of party settings. The drinks are stronger than they seem, and girls often forego their inhibitions as their BAC levels rise. When a girl is “chosen” by a guy who had a sea of other options, the girl gets a self-esteem boost and is more likely to agree to go upstairs with him. These two factors combined put girls in compromising situations and allow the assaulters to convince themselves that the sex is consensual.
I am not saying that every guy who commits sexual assault has set out to take advantage of girls. Many guys on campus who have sexually assaulted girls have been intoxicated themselves or thought that a drunk “yes” was still a “yes.” What many people do not realize is that even if a girl is not passed out on the floor and seems to be functioning normally, her judgment may still be impaired. Under any circumstances involving alcohol, a “yes” is not a green light for sex just because the girl does not stop you.
Another reason why sexual assault remains a major issue on campus is because of the stigma attached to the term. To most, sexual assault is synonymous with rape, another term associated with dark alleys, pedophiles, third-world countries, and evil doers. Many people do not believe that violent acts such as rape and sexual assault could actually occur on this campus. It is necessary to redefine sexual assault in order to rectify this prevalent issue. We need to start accepting that sexual assault is ingrained in the University’s party culture, and we must take the necessary steps to change it.
The change needs to start with the young women on campus. By not buying into the party culture and not drinking the alcohol provided at these events, girls on campus can reclaim their bodies and inhibitions. If girls take a stand against the “norm,” the guys who engage in sexual assault (both unintentionally and intentionally) will have no choice but to rethink their actions and expectations. These are small suggestions, and it will take a large majority of girls on campus to make this change possible. Girls and boys alike need to start questioning their surroundings and start looking out for each other, because only then will this statistic decrease.