By Steve Rusakiewicz, News Writer
The Missouri University of Science and Technology Sexual Assault Awareness Week (SAAW) began during the Miner football game last Saturday, November 5. Sponsored by Sigma Epsilon Fraternity, along with a host of other on-campus organizations and offices, this week has been dedicated to raising awareness of sexual assault in general, helping support local charities for victims, and reducing the risk of such assaults occurring on campus. Students operated a booth in front of the library on campus all week, handing out free “not on my campus” support bracelets, information resources, and breakfast burritos on Monday. While the free food did not last beyond the first day, the booth itself was an all-week landmark complemented by pie-in-the-face and SeeSAAW-athon fundraisers. Profits from the events are being used to bring The Ali Kemp Educational Foundation (T.A.K.E.) self-defense training to Missouri S&T.
Various studies and statistics across the nation have averaged the rate of sexual assaults occurring on college campuses to be around twenty percent. The seven hundred twenty flags displayed around the puck this week have represented the number of sexual assault victims per day. The magnitude of the problem has prompted a variety of national investigations and initiative efforts to accompany the obvious solution of providing easy access to self-defense training. Vigil walks such as “Take Back the Night” bring the issue of sex crimes into focus while outreach initiatives like bystander intervention workshops help give people basic skills to intervene in dangerous situations. This week, students had the opportunity to gather together in multiple forums to discuss the challenges of eliminating the scourge of sexual assault, both on campus and in general. The problem is complex to say the least, with factors such as false-reporting and what some call “rape culture” introducing degrees of subtlety beyond the very simple idea that forcing oneself sexually on another is wrong. Anyone with questions or a desire to help with this event in the future may contact Trevor Thornton at email@example.com
A personal note from the writer: I have watched as the idea of men being unable to control their sexual urges is rationalized away as “normal behavior.” As a man of nearly forty years, I say to anyone reading this article that such behavior is not normal. I find this normalization personally insulting on many levels, not the least of which is the notion that I should be expected to be a slave to my sexuality because I am a man. My father was not exactly the greatest, but one thing he did manage to teach me was about how I, and I alone, have the choice to act on an impulse, or not to act. The idea that “boys will be boys, so girls need to cover themselves up” is utterly insane. Do I know what it’s like to feel completely alone and rejected by everyone I have ever shown a romantic interest in? Do I know what it’s like to be in the grip of extreme lust? Do I know what it’s like to find someone attractive and want to be closer to them? Yes to all, and I maintain these are not excuses that even come close to justifying either direct or indirect sexual assault. In fact, nothing justifies any sexual assault.