We all know that sound, the monotone "bing" that signals a new message's arrival into one of your many inboxes. You could leave the message unread but your curiosity is too strong. You minimize your Twitter feed, then your Facebook news feed, then your Spotify account, and finally arrive at the message titled, "Timely Warning."
Intrigued, you proceed to read about a sexual assault happening in one of your on-campus residence halls. You read in amazement at the obscurity of such an issue, especially on your campus. You gasp, continue re-scrolling through the email for the next 45 seconds, then hear that same "bing" once again — a mental cue it's time to return to your significantly more important social media and entertainment Web pages.
As a college student, I too am guilty of this repetitive routine. However, as a survivor of sexual assault this "Timely Warning" message met me in a much different mood. My emotions ranged from utter anger to absolute pride. Thankful that someone besides myself had the courage to step forward and speak out against their injustice. But then I thought that simply sending out an email to "break" this heart wrenching news was not enough. An issue as large and controversial as sexual assault ought to be dealt with in the same care as the finest china. The report of sexual assault in the manner that was presented in this "Timely Warning" email resonated with me similar to the sound of multiple fine china plates crashing to a newly polished Italian marble floor. Ouch.
In search of answers, I quizzed a fellow collegiate survivor of sexual assault on their personal opinion of this issue. The name of this person will remain anonymous, as so will mine. Pseudonyms are wonderful things aren't they? Cheers. The interview went as such:
Q: What do you feel is the best way to approach sexual assault cases on a college campus?
A: I think the best way to approach sexual assault cases on a college campus is to never blame the victim. Just because they were drinking doesn't mean they deserved it happen any more than if they were sober. I think that sexual assault isn't something that should be made fun of. People think it won't happen to them, so they make light of the issue. I think everyone just needs to watch out for each other and stay with each other. And nobody should ever feel like they're going to lose friends from reporting the assault. Nobody should feel embarrassed or that nobody will believe them. College campuses need to promote this more. And student peers need to promote that more. Nobody simply cries rape. We need to work harder at abolishing rape culture.
Q: How should colleges and Universities respond to sexual assault cases?
A: I think universities should handle sexual assault cases alongside with the city police. University police, while they may believe you, most of the time try to shove it under the rug to avoid publicity. At least, that's what I think. This needs to change. No university's reputation is worth the violation of another human being. It's a crime and should be handled as such.
Q: The term Victim or Survivor? Why?
A: SURVIVOR. Those who have endured sexual assault are not victims, but survivors. We have come out the other side, and we will not let it destroy us. It is an everyday battle to get back the part of ourselves we had lost, but it is not the end of who we are. Victim implies that one is weak and has been defeated. A survivor is STRONG. A survivor is BRAVE. A survivor will not let the abuser win. A survivor wins because they will not let it define who they are.
Q: What does justice look like to you?
A: Justice would be putting those pieces of trash in jail. But the truth is, less than 5 percent of rapists ever see a jail cell. Justice would be trying your hardest, even if you don't succeed, to make sure that the perpetrator sees the inside of a jail cell. But in order to get justice, you have to report it. Don't worry about what anyone else thinks. The survivor needs to do what they need to do in order to find peace within themselves.
Perhaps colleges and universities need to spend more time caring for their precious china rather than sweeping the broken pieces underneath the rug covering their unpolished marble flooring. In the end, justice will prevail, someone will step on one of the broken pieces of china and you will be punished for poor integrity (for lack of a better word). But for now, we continue to click, and gasp, and click again. When will we not "close?" That is the simple question that I propose.