Flames Of The Torch: On Rape Culture

The increase of sexual assaults across the nation has quickly become a hot topic, and has triggered campaigns for more awareness and preventative measures.

Since the White House created the “1 is 2 Many” campaign and the “It’s On Us” initiative, there has been a national call to create a safe place for victims to express themselves. More recently, St. John’s, along with other college campuses, spoke out about such issues and how we could all do better to prevent them.

Overall, St. John’s has been doing a good job of both promoting awareness of sexual violence and preventing the issue by working to keep students safe. The recent “It’s On Us” campaign and promotion of advertising on how students can report an incident are two examples of this effort.

Over the last few months there has also been a myriad of other, more tangible inventions, such as the Date Rape nail polish that turns a different color if your drink is spiked. Although it was recently shown to be less reliable than originally thought,  is a great kickstarter to a national rehaul to dealing with a sensitive and often violent situation. Another useful device is an app called SafeTrek, which involves holding down a touch-screen button when you are in an area in which you don’t feel safe, say, walking home from campus at night. If the button is released, you have 10 seconds to enter a pre-set PIN; otherwise, the police will automatically be called.

Apps and technological innovations like these allow us as a society to stop blaming the victim, and start being preventative.

While reports of sexual assaults across college campus’ nationwide have increased and awareness of the issue has been raised, we think it is important to look at how St. John’s falls in the mix.

In the interest of preventing students here becoming statistics, St. John’s has recently announced that it is taking part in the “It’s On Us” campaign, and has promoted the campaign on platforms available to the whole St. John’s community. St. John’s Central and Tip-Off, where the video was shown and Coach Lavin addressed the issue, are just two examples of that.  Reinforcing the video and the importance of the campaign is a great way to constantly remind students of this ongoing issue.

Looking forward, we suggest that the university consider even more preventative measures, in addition to the rigorous programs already in place. Whether students are victimized on or off campus, or know people are who are being victimized, we suggest weekly meetings where people can feel safe to be anonymous and have ways to talk about what’s going on. Students should become familiar with the flow chart St. John’s has created of the direct steps to take when reporting an incident.

Perhaps making a mobile app similar to SafeTrek a standard program to download for all students, or even by including an emergency alert feature on the current St. John’s app, students would more easily be able to get help when they are having a problem. For students both on and off campus, additional sexual assault education during welcome week and orientation, and making students aware that there are campus resources such as resident assistants, the counseling center, Dean of Students Dr. Daniel Trujillo and Title IX coordinator Jackie Lochrie could benefit the student body and help the St. John’s community to prevent all sexual harassment, assault and violence.