If you’ve read or watched the news at all over the past few weeks, chances are you’ve seen the words “sexual assault” multiple times. After news dropped about Harvey Weinstein’s appalling past, more and more women from Hollywood have been coming out and sharing their stories. Following suit, millions of other women and men have felt empowered to share their history with sexual assault through the social media campaign #MeToo.
Although many people have dubbed themselves as champions of overcoming sexual assault through this campaign and preached the importance of consent and respect, we haven’t had a chance to see a lot of concrete action or change as a result. This Tuesday, we hope we will.
As we’ve grown older, Halloween has become less synonymous with sugar comas and trick-or-treating and more so with binge drinking and wild parties. Don’t get us wrong, we love Halloween. The costumes, the decorations and, yes, even the parties. But we recognize parties, especially ones on days like Halloween, can easily become breeding grounds for sexual assault.
College Halloween parties usually have a few staples. Excessive amounts of alcohol, skimpy costumes, recreational drugs, dark spaces and loud music are typically part of the so-called fun. Absolutely none of the factors, by any means, make sexual assault acceptable or excuse anyone’s actions. However, we can’t ignore the fact that when all of these conditions come together, it creates an environment where sexual assault is more likely to occur. Dear reader, we want you to realize you have the power to break that unfortunate normality.
No one should have to think to themselves while picking out their costumes, “Will this make me more susceptible to being raped?” No one should have to stop themselves from drinking at a party solely out of worry that someone will take advantage of them. No one should have to be worried their drinks are going to be drugged by some stranger with the intention of assaulting them or the candy they eat is going to be laced with some type of drug they had no intention of taking. Everyone deserves to enjoy themselves without fear of assault and without fear those around them cannot control themselves or their actions.
That being said, we feel the need to clarify the idea of responsibility when it comes to sexual assault. It does not only apply to men. Too often men are pegged as the only attackers and women as the only victims in cases of sexual assault. We recognize sexual assault has no gender, and anyone can easily become a victim or find themselves becoming the perpetrator. We urge you, no matter your gender, to take responsibility for your actions.
This Halloween, please stay vigilant. We aren’t going to pretend sexual assault is not an issue on this campus, and we aren’t going to pretend we don’t expect men and women to fall victim to it this week. All we can hope is you, dear reader, can stay accountable for yourself and practice what you preach. More so, we urge you to go the extra mile and stay accountable for those around you and stop things that don’t seem OK.
We have the power to make our campus a safe place. Let’s start using that power.