Life as a woman on campus

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The first six weeks of the school year are called the “Red Zone,” a period of time where an unsettling number of campus sexual assaults take place. Although sexual assaults happen all the time, this is when the number of occurrences spike on college campuses.

When I was a freshman here at UW Oshkosh, I went to my first house party. I was 18 years old, had a boyfriend back home and had never gotten drunk before. I went to the house party with a few girls I met in my dorm room; they were super cool, and I loved being with them.

We went to this house where wop (a combination of liquor and mixers) was being served free for girls (what could be better than free alcohol when you’re 18? … Until it all goes dark).

I still to this day don’t remember what happened that night besides what my friends told me. They said I was crazier, spunkier and friendlier than usual. I felt uncomfortable hearing things that I wasn’t able to remember.

The next morning I still felt drunk and not completely there. I was confused about how I got into bed.

I was scared for my friends and hoped they made it home okay, hoping I was okay too. I stayed in bed most of the day until I had the appetite and strength to get up.

I later found out someone had put drugs in my cup, causing me to forget what happened. Thankfully, I got away clean and found out nobody had sexually assaulted me, but it could have easily happened to me without even knowing.

I’m now cautious with everything I drink and I never take something if I’m not sure about it.

Women, you must be careful or you might not be as lucky as I was. College life can be fun, but you should always be careful of what you’re doing.

As a woman, I am constantly second-guessing myself and making sure what I do, say or wear is acceptable by society’s standards.

I have been degraded by men and other women for what I choose to wear. I was once told to cover up because showing skin means I’m “asking for it.” I’ve also been called a slut for wearing a skirt.

It saddens me that this is how society thinks of women — that we are mere objects instead of people.

There have been a few instances where I found myself alone at night in the middle of the Oshkosh area, close to Molly McGuire’s, and as much as I wanted to expect the best from people, I was terrified of what could possibly happen to me.

I kept seeing people walking around, laughing and talking. A majority of the people were in groups, some just men. I could faintly hear them making comments and walking towards me. I turned the other direction and quickly called someone I could trust to come and find me to get me home safely.

This is just one of many examples of something I and many other women have to worry about that men typically don’t at UWO.

Not only do women have to worry about being alone at night, but even in a crowded room, we must be cautious.

Alcohol may cause anyone to act out of their right mind or do things they wouldn’t normally do when sober such as becoming aggressive, drugging someone or making vulgar comments. Regardless of what happens or how drunk someone is, there is no excuse to follow through with these actions. It will never be acceptable.

Along with my story of being drugged, I know other women as well who have had similar experiences. Some were not as lucky as others.

Women need to look out for one another and be a shield from harm in any way possible.

I carry pepper spray on me at all times because I never know when something could happen to me and I’d rather be safe than sorry. Luckily, I’ve never had to use it.

Being a woman is hard to say the least. I am constantly forced to think about these things simply because I am a woman. Women are more likely to be sexually assaulted or raped than men.

We are now in the “Red Zone,” and we must inform the UWO community to help prevent young adults from being sexually assaulted. I hope my story helps other students on campus understand what to do or how to find help.

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, one in six women are victims of sexual assault or rape in their lifetime, ranging from 18 to 34 years old. It’s crucial for young women to acknowledge these statistics when entering a college campus and being cautious of their surroundings.