Task force must educate to end sexual assault

By Shayna Rodeman

rodemansh@mnstate.edu

At the beginning of the school year, one of the main topics in the news was the report of an 18-year-old girl being raped by wrestler Angel Mario Vega. Now, a second sexual assault has been reported on campus.

Interestingly enough, 18-year-old freshman Zachary Hilliard turned himself into authorities on Sept. 23 after raping his ex-girlfriend. They dated for about three weeks before breaking up, only for him to sexually assault her about a week after the relationship ended.

The task force President Anne Blackhurst gathered is planning on getting together for their first meeting soon. The goal of the group it to create a campus culture where no forms of sexual harassment are tolerated.

With rapes happening every day, let us just look at the main component that both of these cases have in common: they were reported.

One could certainly argue that with more reported rapes on campus, there are naturally more rapes occurring. However, I would like to propose that these rape reports are, in some ways, a positive indicator. Look at the awareness that is being spread as a result of these reported rapes. Certainly, it would have been best if these sexual assaults did not occur at all; but most rapes are unfortunately unreported and unpunished.

It’s telling that Hilliard turned himself into police. Again, it would have been better if he would have realized the fault in his actions before he committed the assault; but the fact that he recognized what he did was wrong and took action about it causes me to believe that what the school is doing about the issue is not all wrong.

The university could arguably do more to prevent, or at least address, sexual assault on campus, but how much can a task force really do to prevent rape?

That is why it is important to keep people informed about the issue. Learning more about any subject takes effort. It means actively searching out information. There are, unfortunately, some people who just don’t care enough to learn more about it.

This doesn’t mean that we cannot inform as many people as possible. In order to do that, it is imperative to reach students where there is little distraction and where a lot of them are bound to be.

It is also important for the task force to get MSUM students actively listening by asking questions and getting them to think about how rape could affect (or even has affected) them.

It would be nice to stop hearing about sexual assault cases in the area, but the best way to make it stop is through education.  

People are beginning to understand what sexual assault is and how to advocate against it.

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