Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Students must stay informed about sexual assalut

Sexual assault is an issue that has been around for as long as humans have existed. Despite an increased awareness and a developed understanding of it in recent times, it still remains a significant problem today. Although sexual assault can occur anywhere, college campuses are a frequent target of sexual predators, and UW Oshkosh is no exception. Because of this, students must make a point of educating themselves on the intricacies of sexual assault.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center reported that as of 2007, one in five women and one in 16 men will be sexually assaulted in college. Because many instances of sexual assault go unreported– 90 percent according to the NSVRC– these numbers may even be higher.

As a result of these high rates, the NSVRC is specifically targeting universities across the country to participate in its annual Sexual Assault Awareness Month during April.

Contrary to what some may think, the spectrum of sexual assault goes beyond rape, and the issues that result are far from black and white. Sexual assault is defined as any unwanted sexual activity without consent. It may seem obvious at first glance, but giving and receiving consent is the most important aspect of a sexual encounter and must be fully understood by students and others alike.

UWO Women’s Center Director Geneva Murray said most people want to decrease the amount of sexual violence that happens in their community, but sometimes those people aren’t fully educated about consent.

“People who don’t understand what consent is can sometimes see our discussions of sexual violence as being a way to paint men as bad,” Murray said. “I think it’s kind of a scare response thing as we start to talk more about sexual assault within our society.”

Just like any type of trust, consent can be withdrawn at any time and just because someone isn’t forcefully resisting does not mean they are consenting. What some perceive as willing participation in sex can often be considered sexual assault. The NSVRC lists several reasons why someone may not be able to give consent: fear, being underage, having a disability or being under the influence of drugs.

Alcohol is the drug most commonly associated with sexual assault. Its wide availability and popularity on college campuses put students who consume it at a much higher risk. Because alcohol won’t be going away any time soon, the burden of responsible consumption rests on students who choose to drink.

Although it is a frequent occurrence in Oshkosh and around the country, sex with a drunk person can be considered assault depending on their level of intoxication.

“In the state of Wisconsin, once your blood alcohol content has reached a .05 or higher, you are legally unable to give consent,” Katie Huskey, a Reach Counseling advocate for UWO, said. “For most people, that is not a lot of alcohol.”

Although there’s no guaranteed way to prevent sexual assault, it’s up to students to protect themselves. Murray said the Women’s Center has organized several events to help better inform students on the issues involved with sexual assault.

Murray highly recommends that students attend a bystander intervention workshop called Stand Up Titans. The workshops include interactive videos and role-playing scenarios that teach students how to stop a potential sexual assault.

“One of the main things that we see in terms of being able to really challenge sexual violence is having bystanders who know how to safely and effectively intervene,” Murray said.

Stand Up Titans and other events like it can better prepare students for sexual dangers that exist on and off campus. Those who educate themselves will be able to better recognize potential sexual assaults directed at themselves or others. Knowledge of consent laws and the ability to recognize the tactics of sexual predators will greatly increase students’ chances of avoiding sexual assault.

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