Victims matter, should be heard

Rape and sexual assault are major discussion topics in the media, as they should be. If the media does not bring these in- stances to light, then the perpetrators will never see why they need to change.

Some people have the audacity to claim the public does not need to know when rape or sexual assault occurs, such as the University of Kentucky administration. In August, the university sued its student newspaper, the Kentucky Kernel, for pur- suing an investigative report about sexual assault on campus.

Oswego State has seen its own strug- gles regarding the frequency of rape and sexual assault on campus, but I applaud Oswego State President Deborah Stanley for her professional, yet approachable and understanding demeanor with which she has handled the situations. There was pre- viously no requirement to inform the cam- pus community of investigations regarding rape or sexual assault. After an incident on Sept. 29, student requests to be made aware and Stanley adjusted Oswego State’s poli- cies in order to keep the campus informed of further incidents.

In contrast to Oswego State’s new poli- cies, the University of Kentucky claims they did not wish to release records to the Kernel

because of the negative perceptions associ- ated with victims of sexual assault and rape. This is a valid point, since there are cases in which victims are treated differently after the incident. The problem with this is that vic- tims are sometimes afraid to report the inci- dent so it goes unnoticed by fellow students, preventing them from taking a stand.

According to a 2015 report by the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), 4 out of 5 female college students ages 18 to 24 did not report sexual violence to law en- forcement. Of these, 1 out of 5 female stu- dents said they feared a backlash if they did.

Taking backlash against victims into ac- count, the University of Kentucky’s desire of the classic policy that “mum’s the word” seems to make sense; they believe keeping quiet about incidents is directly protecting victims. What policy does not factor in how- ever, is that some victims think what hap- pened to them does not matter, or that no one woulds believe them, establishing distrust for fellow students and administration.

According to RAINN, more than 1 in 10 female students neglected to report be- cause they did not feel their incident was important enough.

At the heart of the problem, no victim should believe their story does not matter. We should encourage victims to talk about their experiences, if they feel comfortable, so they know they have support.

Making peers aware might be part of the

overarching issues of privacy and victim protection. As is well-known, a major portion of rape and sexual assault vic- tims know their perpetrator, making it easier for a victim’s privacy or safety to be compromised.

According to RAINN, 75 percent of rapes are committed by someone the vic- tim knows. Overall, 93 percent of sexual abuse victims know their attacker.

This is concerning to the extreme. If victims have pre-existing ties to the at- tacker, then there is the possibility that a rift will open in the relationship or with mutual friends. Victims should not fear this. If victims do not share their stories it should not be because they feel they cannot, rather that they choose not to.

People do bad things all the time after all: stealing is wrong, but many people do it. Rape and sexual assault are not merely “bad” or immoral acts, they are inhumane. Even if detailed in- formation of the case is not made pub- lic, students should be made aware. The perception needs to stop being “This is bad because…” and start being “Do not do this because…”

It is the absolute right of all student body members to be aware of crimes of this nature. Undisclosed perpetrators will not see the inhumanity of their crimes if they are not condemned by the community.