SGA Outlines New Anti-Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct Campaign

Written by Executive Editor on February 16th, 2015

(Editor’s Note: Below is an op-ed we received from SGA President Addison Bennett and Senior Class President Soraya Attia entitled “It’s Happening Here: SGA’s Anti-Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct Campaign.” While neither Bennett nor Attia write for the site–wouldn’t that be a mind-fuck and a half?–they reached out to us about publishing the piece, and we think it’s a good message to get out there, as it very much concerns all of us. That being said, we encourage you to read the memo and share your thoughts on a very important issue–either in the comments section or with Attia and Bennett personally.)

Sometimes the numbers can seem too abstract to process. 1 in 5 women. 1 in 16 men. By this point, so many of us have these number ingrained into our consciousness and know exactly what they represent: the number of people who will have experienced a sexual assault by the time they finish college. These are numbers, unacceptable but abstract. For the students who have been fortunate enough not to have been the victims of a sexual crime, they can be easy to write off as mere statistics. For those who are survivors, the statistics simultaneously amplify the problem and isolate the individual. As leaders on campus this year, we have decided to make sure that SGA takes a stand against the problem of sexual and gender-based misconduct.

We are not immune at Skidmore, and it’s time that students stand up against sexual offenders and learn what we can do as a community to approach this behemoth of a problem. This week, SGA is launching the It’s Happening Here campaign, a program designed for Skidmore students by Skidmore students to bring our community together and face this issue.

We’ve all seen the news reports from other colleges and universities, but we must remember that Skidmore has an unfortunate amount of both offenders and survivors on our own campus. At the heart of the issue, we must work towards a paradigm shift in the way our society talks about sexual and gender-based misconduct: to appropriate a phrase from others, it’s on all of us to understand the issue, but it’s on rapists not to rape.

Such a complicated issue cannot be approached without community education. That’s why starting this week, you’ll being seeing posters around campus with information on sexual and gender-based misconduct. While the information on these posters largely draws from national statistics, the message holds true within our own community. We hope that by simply spreading information, we can get everyone thinking about your own conceptions of the problem, and hopefully reevaluating your own attitudes towards this issue. We hope that none of these posters are triggering to anyone who has experienced any form of misconduct personally, and having consulted with more than a handful of campus experts and professionals, we are confident that we simply must put the information out there in order to get productive conversations going.

In addition to our information campaign, you can look forward to a number of events that we hope will keep the momentum going against this national wave of violent crime against both women and men. On March 5, SGA and Lively Lucy’s will host a tribute night for survivors in the Spa. We hope that through art of many forms, our talented community members can express their solidarity.

This campaign is not just about events and awareness. One of our primary goals is to make some major changes to Skidmore’s policy on sexual and gender-based misconduct, including stricter sanctions, a clearer definition of offenses, and a better hearing process. At its core, we hope this campaign will get us all thinking about our own attitudes, behaviors, and conceptions of our own community. We also want to enact concrete changes to the way our school handles the issue when it arises, and we are confident that we will soon be able to announce some major progress. We cannot sit back and assume that we are insulated from this national issue.

One of the most challenging parts of our year so far as student leaders has involved sitting down and hearing the experiences of our own friends and peers on campus related to this issue. It is both humbling and troubling to be trusted with this kind of emotion and experience. We are thankful to those who have stepped forward and told us their stories. We are using that trust to change college policy and speak more intelligently about the issue. We are also respectful of the many who have not stepped forward, as this campaign is intended to make sure everyone here can feel more secure in our community’s safety.

We want all students to understand that we are not immune to sexual and gender-based misconduct, and the only way to tackle this problem is to bring it out into the open. We want to get people talking and spread awareness of this problem. As SGA leaders this year, we want to stand for something. We hope that you will notice this campaign and participate as much as you can. It is going to take a community effort to make a change and we are confident that is possible.


7 Comments so far ↓

  1. Anonymous says:

    Congrats to Addison and Soraya for their passion and paving the way for (hopefully) a safer campus for future students. So great to have a student team on top of this issue and promoting it around campus

    • Addison says:

      Yes, good work. Let’s debate the numbers from one study that needs more analysis instead of confronting the issue. The fact is too many people experience some form of sexual crime while in college, and it needs to stop.

  2. A clinician who treats male and female perpetrators and victims of violence says:

    The 1 in 5 number is not “bunk.” It may turn out to be somewhat inaccurate, but not so substantively so as to warrant dismissal. I have seen data and also administered surveys with results that are not significantly different. The truth is that there are a lot more sexual assaults than are reported to the administration, and morseo to the police.

    This DOJ link also has interesting data: 80% of campus rapes are unreported; 80% of female victims knew their attacker; 17% of rape victims are male students; and, male students are 4.5 TIMES more likely to be raped than their non student counterparts. There is a lot more work to be done in terms of education, advocacy, consequences, and treatment.

  3. A very concerned alum says:

    Below is a link to an article about a documentary addressing rape on campuses…. These are the same people who filmed a documentary about rape in the military. They were not intending to make this film about campuses but so many people came up to them after the screenings of the military film to say the culture was very similar to what exists on college campuses; the filmmakers felt obligated to make the film. They were shocked by what they found out. Here’s a quote from the film: “Schools [are] waiting to be under investigation, waiting for a reason to finally do their job. And it’s sad because most of these students are teenagers when they’re impacted. You’d think that, when you have all these children being impacted by their college journey, you’d think that institutions would care more. You’d think they’d actually care about your safety. But in most cases, you’re just a public relations case.”

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