Campus Safety / Discourse / Editorials / October 28, 2010

Thoughts from the Embers: Friend-on-friend

After last year’s forums, BE Active workshops and campus discussions about sexual assault and frequency of acquaintance rape and assault, it’s hard to imagine that it’s possible that we have learned nothing.

But maybe it is possible. In the article printed in last week’s issue of TKS titled “Student banned after arrest for battery,” one of the battery victims interviewed said there were plenty of people that looked on as one student threw another to the ground and sat on top of her, eventually slapping her in the face and unbuttoning her shorts, but no one did anything about it.

There might be a lot of excuses about not stepping in to stop incidents like this battery, or stepping in before an assault happens between friends. Regardless of who was present as an onlooker, it is always everyone’s responsibility to look out for each other. How else can our community become a safe place?

What happened on the morning of Oct. 3 was not assault, it was battery, but did our discussions do nothing to raise awareness that violence or assault are always serious incidents, no matter if they happen between friends or strangers?

To quote last week’s article, “No one had stepped in because they were always together and [everyone] thought they were just playing around,” the one victim said.

What will it take to raise more awareness on this campus? It’s apparently necessary to continue taking action on the matter. No one knows what might have happened if someone who was watching this incident unfold had stepped in earlier. Maybe the two girls who got injured wouldn’t have had to deal with those injuries, or deal with the emotional stress that comes after such an incident. A whole situation could have potentially been avoided.

So, what do we need to do? Do we need to bring back the BE Active workshops, even though the attendance rate at such workshops was a tiny percentage of the whole campus? Do we need to have another forum, specifically about the dangers of problems that happen between friends, and the dangers of these problems not being taken seriously?

In addition to this incident, Director of Campus Safety John Schlaf also said, in an interview regarding a sexual assault that was reported in this week’s Campus Safety log, “It was two persons that knew one another.” Perhaps sexual assault will be something that always happens, on this campus and in the world, but are we really doing everything we can to prevent it, even between friends?

Maybe we just need to talk to each other more. Maybe we need to help make each other realize that it’s okay to step in and help in a situation like the one that happened on Oct. 3. Is it embarrassment that’s keeping us from doing this? If so, let’s get over ourselves already. If you see a situation at a party or anywhere else, really, that seems potentially dangerous, say something. Ask those involved if they are okay with what is going on. If we don’t learn to do this now, as proven by this incident a few weeks ago, maybe we never will.

TKS Staff

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