Campus Climate Survey yields startling results

Melissa Parker

The results from the Campus Climate Survey were thought-provoking and eye-opening to say the least.

One particular group of data really caught my attention: rape myth acceptance.

This is the understanding that an attack on someone is somehow their fault. They should have behaved or dressed differently. It tells those who commit these heinous acts it is OK and discourages victims from reporting the assault and asking for help.

First, let me begin by stating the majority of those who took the survey disagreed or strongly disagreed with questions that asked if they accepted rape myths. I am thrilled with those results.

However, of the 978 surveys completed, the rape myth acceptance section showed about 27 percent of people who responded were neutral and about 13 percent agreed or strongly agreed “when girls go to parties wearing revealing clothes, they are asking for trouble.”

Another question asked respondents to gauge their feelings on the statement, “A lot of times, girls who say they were raped agreed to have sex and then regret it.” At least 29 percent said they were neutral and about 14 percent agreed or strongly agreed.

Finally, according to the results of the survey many do not feel attackers are to blame for their actions. About 27 percent were neutral and approximately 21 percent agreed or strongly agreed that “Guys don‘t usually intend to force sex on a girl, but sometimes they get too sexually carried away.”

Those numbers are staggering. More than a quarter of those who took the survey have no feelings at all about the subject or possibly do not think those things happen to them or their friends. More importantly, the victim has been forced to take the blame. The attacker is left blameless and free to do whatever he or she pleases while the victim relives the trauma over and over again.

This all comes down to consent. It does not matter what a person wears. If they do not say “yes” to sex, they do not want it. If they do not ask for it specifically, they do not want it.

Every 107 seconds one American is sexually assaulted, according to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network. In the time it takes a person to brush his or her teeth, wash his or her hands or put on his or her shoes, someone is being sexually assaulted. It could happen to anyone’s friend or loved one.

What would you do if someone close to you told you they had been sexually assaulted? Would you ask them what they were wearing at the time? Would you make them feel like they were blowing the whole thing out of proportion? Would you discourage them from reporting it?

We have to come together as a community to encourage and remind one another that the blame does not, in fact, lie with the victim. The results of the survey show that we are not there yet, but I hope that will change. Remember, the attacker makes the conscious decision to act. That’s it. The blame lies with that person. The change in thought and action is ours to make.