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Editorial: Opening an honest dialogue on sexual assault

Published: October 9, 2009
Section: Front Page


According to a report of crime statistics disseminated by the Department of Public Safety, there were two forcible sex crimes on the Brandeis campus in 2008. Given that sexual assaults are chronically under reported, the actual incidence of sexual violence on our campus is likely higher.

In light of the ubiquity of sexual assault, one in six women will be a victim according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, the lack of campus-wide discussion of sexual violence is a dangerous oversight. While there is passing mention of date rape and consent during first-year orientation, it is painfully obvious that that is insufficient. Disturbingly enough, many students think of rape as a joke or a way to describe the MCAT. Clearly, the message that sexual violence is a systemic societal problem that our university community needs to take seriously has not sunk in.

We need to move past the superficial warnings of ‘don’t drink too much,’ and ‘no means no,’ if we ever expect to live in a community free of rape and sexual violence. Our university, along with countless others across the United States, needs to create opportunities for our entire community, young men and women alike, to sit down to have an honest conversation about what constitutes consent and coercion.