Changing view of rape at college

Photo provided by ThinkStock
Photo provided by ThinkStock

Oswego State University Police is “happy to report that violent crime that is plaguing many campuses across the state remains very low at SUNY Oswego.”

A 2012 University Police report shows there were four rapes investigated on the Oswego campus. Rapes can happen anywhere, even a college dorm room, right? Four rapes in a year seems like a low number.

United States Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, caught my attention on the radio when I listened to her do a radio interview. She is bringing attention to rapes on college campuses and military bases. According to her, 1 out of 5 women in college are sexually assaulted. That’s you and the other girls you live with in your Onondaga suite.

Most girls don’t report rape because it’s an inconvenient, miserable and uncomfortable legal process that rape victims do not want to begin.

After a rape, you cannot shower if you want to have a rape kit done to get evidence to convict your rapist. Needing to preserve your assaulted body in order to get evidence for a charge should be an antiquated method.

Is rape only rape when the woman screams and yells “no”? It’s not about saying no, it’s about saying yes. Many women are being raped by dates, friends or boyfriends. Is it happening in your tiny Seneca dorm room while your roommate is watching Netflix?

Furthermore, rape is not only affecting women. We have to assume that those in the LGBT community are dealing with rape as well. People who are intimately involved are experiencing pressures and types of rape that is not what we typically frame as rape. This is about redefining the parameters of what rape is in this country and especially in college towns.

It’s happening off campus after long nights at the bars and parties in off campus housing. UP needs to investigate off campus rapes and make it easier for those that attend Oswego State to report rapes.

Other institutions have data showing crimes both on and off campus, but UP at Oswego State only deal with crimes that happen right in our cocoon called campus.

I’m not talking about people jumping out of the bushes and throwing victims on the ground. I’m talking about peers that are taking advantage of others and not respecting the need for consent. There needs to be a conversation. If two people are going to hook up, there needs to be audible consent. “Yes, let’s do it.” “Yes, you can pull my pants down.”

There are many components to this issue. Let’s start by talking about relationships. There are many kinds of relationships especially in college. There are plutonic friends, friends who have sex on the weekends, friends who have had sex once before; couples seeing each other, couples in love. Rape can happen in any relationship at any time. Just because you usually get together after finishing homework doesn’t mean you owe it to your partner to finish every time.

Body language is easy to see and understand; so observing to the physicality of your partner is key for consent. If you kiss back, if you partake in undressing your mate or undressing yourself, that’s where the consent begins. But when she agreed to go back to that off campus apartment for “a movie” (and they never just want to watch a movie,) it doesn’t mean she is consenting to sex. Know that. Being together in bed with Garfield on TV is not a go-ahead to get it on. That is not consent.

Often times people are quick to dismiss rape if there is alcohol involved.  I am speaking about women, from a woman’s perspective. If a woman doesn’t want sex, there are signs to look for. Is her body ready? Is she looking at you? Is she kissing or hugging you back? Just because she isn’t standing up and telling you no doesn’t mean it is okay to keep touching, nudging or even whining!

Whining for sex for an hour is not getting consent. Complaining that you want to have sex, asking for sex repeatedly, or trying your best to get your partner in the mood is not consent. And guess what? The more you do that, the more she is really not going to be into it, if you know what I mean. Just because you’re ready doesn’t mean she is.

Luckily, I have not had any negative experiences at Oswego State, but those who have are most likely not speaking up. Four rape investigations in the year of 2012? There are probably more rapes in one night. This is an issue, world! This is an issue, Oswego!

I think we need to begin a campaign on this campus to emphasize what consent really is. Also, UP needs to gain authority to begin taking on investigations for off campus rapes. There was only one time in school where I had to stand up and say, “I want to leave right now. Take me home.” I am lucky that the boy I was with, grabbed his keys and drove me home that night. Not every girl gets up to speak. That is what we need to improve.

Boys: Take the hint. You know when a girl doesn’t want sex. Girls: If he doesn’t take the hint, say no, out loud and to his face.

Because I previously mentioned that women are not the only victims, it is important to show that Oswego State’s last update on rape for both sexes was in 1993. Ten percent of men were taken advantage of while under the influence as well as 17 percent of women. This statistic is outdated. It’s time for some discussion on this campus about what constitutes consent, and who is being affected by pushy partners.

Rape isn’t always violent, brutal and by someone you don’t trust. It can be on a first date or the fiftieth date. It can be on campus or off campus. Intoxicated or sober. Heterosexual or not, and I am with Sen. Gillibrand. Rape on college campuses not only needs to be seriously discussed, but it needs to be reformed.