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Remember, only “yes” means “yes”

Tyler Junior College is no stranger to the effects of sexual assault, with several cases having taken place over the past few years. The Drumbeat ran a story in Fall 2016 detailing the misreporting of certain cases via Clery Act guidelines. Universities across the nation, like Baylor, have been slammed for mishandling cases and vile treatment of victims. This problem has become very prevalent in our society and one of the reasons Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) exists.

Victim-blaming provides a significant case for an existing ‘rape culture,’ a well-hidden under-current of misogyny and mistrust, and the fact is that only between two and 10 percent of reports are false. Many victims at various universities are discouraged by campus officials from reporting cases, and many are prematurely thrown out on the basis of too little evidence. Worse is the lackluster punishments and sentencing when cases are proven true beyond doubt, especially when it comes to star athletic students.

The Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN) collects data on sexual violence. This data comes from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). There’s a bevy of acronyms regarding this subject, but  each one represents an important resource in the fight against rape and harassment. According to RAINN, 23.1% of female undergraduate students will experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation, as will 5.4% of males. This is a staggering number when you consider the amount of people that percentage represents. It should be 0 percent. However, this is not a perfect world. For reasons that no one will understand anytime soon, people are sickeningly victimized all the time. Knowledge, compassion and reason are the best tools with which to bite back at the darkness. SAAM encompasses all of these values.

First observed nationally April 1, 2001, but with roots in activism reaching back to the 1970s, SAAM is a time when events are coordinated to provide awareness of the risk and statistics of sexual crimes. The goal is to educate victims and at-risk groups of people, like college students, about resources available to them in regards to prosecuting perpetrators and counseling. TJC will observe SAAM by hosting meetings and events across campus.

It’s a tragedy that we face such bestial issues in a modern and technologically advanced society. For all of our hard work, it seems enlightenment yet eludes us. Make no mistake, the men and women who commit acts of stalking, sexual violence or harassment are of the most reprehensible ilk, and rape is a crime on par with murder in it’s gravity. You can be part of the solution though. Be the change you want to see in the world. So let’s start with TJC. On our campus, only “yes” means “yes,” and absolute consent is a necessity for healthy intimacy. For our students who have been victims in the past, you are not alone, and we at The DrumBeat are glad you are here with us today as our peer(s). We hope this campus can become a true bastion of safety and comfort as you carry on your educational journey.

Please remember that the Code Blue emergency call boxes located on campus are there for you in times of urgency and danger. One is located on the right corner of Ornelas and the other by the tennis courts. Other important resources are available to anyone who has been the victim of sexual assault include campus police at 903–510–2222 and the East Texas Crisis Center at 903-595-5591 or visit notalone.gov. If you are off campus and are being stalked or have been the victim of assault or violence, call local law enforcement via 911 right away.

There are solutions. We can fight this epidemic through awareness, the support of college officials and law enforcement, and legislative action. To learn more about what you can do to take action, visit seeactstop.org.

Editorial cartoon by Sean Smith.

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