By OUSAP Peer Advocate Carina Turner
Ah, Spring Quarter at OU. Sand volleyball on South Beach, sunbathing on West Green, the jugglers and tightrope walkers in front of Gam – it’s the quarter I look forward to the most each year. I love the smell of cherry blossom trees beginning to bloom, watching the chipmunks chase each other through the bushes, and listening to the musicians who waited months to be able to sit out in the sun and play their guitars again.
Although these tranquil thoughts relax me and help me look forward to lazy afternoons on the lawn, the thought of the fests that make up a big part of Spring Quarter create mixed feelings. I love to have fun as much as any OU student, and with this being my last year I fully intend to enjoy every weekend to the fullest. I’m looking forward to the music and company that comes with a weekend of partying. I’m also looking forward to the fundraising I’ll be able to do during some of the fests – you would be surprised how excited drunk people get when they see someone selling grilled cheese sandwiches.
What I’m not looking forward to is the more dangerous aspects of the fests. Warm weather and, for some of us, easy schedules may lead to more fun, but the fests also lead to an increased risk of sexual assault occurring. While on average one in six women and one in thirty three men will be sexually assaulted sometime in their lives, this statistic increases significantly for college-aged women. One in four of your female classmates will be sexually assaulted sometime in their college career, and it is more likely to be by an acquaintance than by the creepy guy in the bushes. We should be especially aware of this during the upcoming fest season.
Too often we blame the victim of sexual assault. I have heard stories of women who were assaulted at one of the fests, and too often I’ve heard “What was she wearing?” “How drunk was she?” or “She should have known better!” However, no woman, regardless of what she was wearing or what she was doing, should be held responsible for someone assaulting her! That would be like asking a gas station clerk who is robbed why he chose to work at that store – does that make any sense?
My challenge to all OU students this year is to shoulder some of the responsibility we unfairly place upon the victims. Ladies, know where your friends are! Make sure that if you leave to go home you call and make sure they arrived safely, and don’t rely on some stranger to get them there. Don’t be afraid to step in if you see a guy being inappropriate. Likewise, men have as much, if not more, responsibility for helping to prevent sexual assault. If you hear inappropriate jokes being made or see someone being a little too forceful, speak up! Make sure that your friends get home safely, even if you have to take them yourself.It’s not enough to blame someone after the fact.
If you see something happening, take that same conviction that tells you that she should have known better or he should have know when to stop, and SPEAK UP! Your actions could be the difference between a few moments of hurt feelings and a lifetime of pain from a sexual assault.