Editorial: Sexual assault is everyone’s issue

by Staff

Recent events from this semester have pointed out an ugly truth for San Diego State, as well as college campuses across the country. From the results of the semester-long audit to the spike in reported cases, the issue of sexual assault and systemic problems that promote rape culture have swept across national media and made their way into the forefront of many Aztecs’ minds. The most recent addition to this timeline of horrible events was the alleged harassment of “Take Back the Night” demonstrators by SDSU fraternity members. This was followed by another sexual assault report just one day later. The resulting decision by Greek-life leaders to suspend all fraternity social activities and require sexual assault prevention and bystander training for its members have further divided the student body on the proper way to handle such a horrendous situation.

Because of the complex and widespread nature of these issues, The Daily Aztec wishes to utilize its power as a facilitator for communication on campus to voice its own opinion on the matter. We, as the editorial board of this publication, believe that although the voluntary suspension of fraternity social activity was a positive step toward finding collaborative solutions, more needs to be done. To truly create a safe campus community free from the threat of violence we need more transparency in the reporting, investigating, and judgment processes of sexual assault cases.

There have been 10 reported sexual assaults this semester, according to SDSU Police Department Capt. Joshua Mays. Although some of these allegedly happened at fraternities, they didn’t all occur there.  Therefore it’s clear that these issues need to be addressed within fraternity culture, but Greek Life is not alone in perpetuating this violent environment, and other aspects need to be addressed.

Following the sexual assault audit, the university acknowledged that several changes would be put in place to improve safety and reduce incidents. However, its unclear what’s actually been done. We know there was a new video on prevention and bystander training during new-student orientations that received mixed reviews. We know there is a plan to open up the women’s resource center, but not any definitive timeline for its completion.  And we know there has been increased training among staff and residents advisors to aid victims. What we don’t know is what any of this has done.

Rape culture on our campus is not something that’s going to have a quick fix, but it is something that students and administration need to work together on to find a solution. The only way to do that is for increased transparency throughout it all. Sexual assault reports are not enough, we need to know what happens next. Obviously privacy issues come into play with the identities of those involved with a case, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to inform the student body on the way these cases are handled.

Students on this campus deserve to know their safety is a top priority. We do not deny that university and student body leaders clearly desire an end to these issues, but the unclear communication of progress and changes is a disservice to us all. When one Aztec is harmed, it is the duty of all of us to step up and find solutions. And the first step is asking for answers.

We welcomes any responses to this editorial online or through Letters to the Editor, for which guidelines can be found online.