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Students raise awareness for sexual assault, harassment

April 5, 2013

In light of the recent rape case in Steubenville, Ohio, the idea of “rape culture” is being discussed more than ever. This discussion has led to students on MC’s campus to organize groups and events to further awareness of rape culture.

One result of this discussion has been the revival of a women’s group on campus known as the Coalition for Women’s Awareness. “The CWA is a campus organization that is intended to be a safe space for women and men to come and discuss the issues of sexism on this campus,” said junior Kaitlyn Pfau who led the revival of the group.

Professor Trudi Peterson’s Women, Justice and Equality course has organized a Slut Walk to be held on campus on Saturday, April 6. The Slut Walk originated in Toronto after a police officer spoke to high school students about how to best prevent rape and instructed women in the room to not “dress like sluts.” The Slut Walk started as a protest to this statement and to victim-blaming and slut-shaming.

“Slut-shaming is when people make negative judgments about a woman based on anything from the way she dresses to her real or perceived sexuality or sex life,” said senior Sarah Zaubi, a student in the Women’s Studies course that is organizing the Slut Walk. “Judgments like these almost always lead to victim-blaming – blaming victims for their own rape – assault or harassment.”

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), a school of about 1,000 students could experience as many as 35 rapes per year. This statistic does not include other forms of sexual assault or harassment. The Monmouth College Scots Guide defines sexual harassment as any “unwelcome communication or conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances; requests for sexual favors; lewd, obscene or sexually suggestive remarks; sexual misconduct; or other conduct of a sexual nature when submission to such conduct or communication is made or threatened to be made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of employment or education; submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used or threatened to be used as the basis for academic, extracurricular or employment decisions involving the individual…”

Mohsin Masood, Director of Residence Life echoes the school’s policy on harassment and assault: “We absolutely do not tolerate sexual harassment… I think [we deal with such cases] very promptly and efficiently, providing both sides with information and resources needed, especially for the victim.”

The administration has been very supportive of the initiatives that students are taking to raise the campus awareness of what qualifies for harassment and assault. “I would encourage any student who faces sexual harassment or harassment in general to report it immediately,” said Masood.

Mackenzie Mahler
News Editor

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