Parties illicit sexual assault

by Emily Alvarenga , Staff columnist

For years, police and college students have placed the blame of sexual assault on prowlers — strangers who attack unsuspecting victims in alleys when they’re all alone and defenseless. In reality, most sexual assault cases are committed by someone the victim knows while one or more parties are intoxicated at a crowded party.

San Diego State recently began spreading awareness of this fact by helping educate its students. Now it’s time for students to understand the importance of this growing problem. Since these cases often occur in the presence of peers, we must help spread awareness to make sure we know what to do if we witness any suspicious behavior.

KPBS recently reported the link between fraternity culture and sexual assaults on college campuses across the nation. This semester alone, two sexual assaults have taken place at fraternity parties here at SDSU. I know I’m not the only one who has witnessed two very drunk people make decisions they might not of made if they were sober. So why do we sit around while the number of sexual assault cases rise? We point fingers at our administration when we do little to prevent all-too-familiar cases that often occur during our presence.

“The majority of sexual assaults that have happened on the SDSU campus have been acquaintance situations, where the people involved knew each other, either casually or more,” Chief Communications Officer Greg Block said. “And most of the incidents have involved the consumption of alcohol by one or both of the people involved. And, they happen behind closed doors, in private residences where our police officers cannot patrol.”

It’s becoming our responsibility to help each other. In June, SDSU formed its own Sexual Violence Task Force comprised of students, faculty and administrators who focus on developing a campus-wide campaign to spread awareness and preventative methods.

“The idea of what a fraternity provides is, basically, access to brotherhood and comradery, centered around the idea of partying, and really, access to women and sex,” SDSU Task Force’s Jeff Bucholtz said to KPBS.

Granted, the average fraternity member isn’t a rapist, but frat parties act as a protective cover for those who are.”

“It is less likely that what you are doing is going to stand out enough to look dangerous, to look unhealthy,” Bucholtz said.

This is exactly why students have to learn preventative methods in order to deal with these situations once they arise. If the protocols aren’t clear, it’s the responsibility of the student to find out. SDSU is making it easier for students to do just that.

In recent weeks, Associated Students has tabled on campus, giving students Otter Pops if they can ask the cooler’s permission in various sexual scenarios. After doing so, students were given an Otter Pop and flyer explaining the importance of getting consent before engaging in sexual activity, no matter the situation. Even though it may seem silly and obvious, it’s been very effective in getting students to realize communication is the first step in preventing sexual violence.

“Sexual assault and sexual violence are issues that impact everyone, especially students here at SDSU and at universities across the country,” according to an A.S. report. “As part of the effort to end sexual assault and sexual violence, SDSU and Associated Students are working to stimulate dialogue across campus on this important and relevant topic.”

A.S. hosted a seminar on sexual violence awareness, “Yes! Yes! Yes! A Conversation About Consent and Sexual Violence,” in the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union Montezuma Hall to help students look at the way they aid sexual violence and how they can utilize new strategies on prevention.

It’s our responsibility to our friends and fellow peers to learn about sexual assault prevention. With all the opportunities SDSU has provided to inform us, there’s no reason why the sexual assault cases should continue rising. I don’t want anything to happen to me or any of my friends — as I’m sure is the case with many others — so why not take the time to learn about prevention? If something as simple as attending an informative seminar could prevent something as terrible as rape, it’s our job to do everything in our power to educate ourselves. Don’t wait until it’s too late — do your part in ending sexual violence on our campus.