Opinion | Community, university response necessary for action to be taken against sexual assault
Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 18, 2012 22:10
Like so many others, staff of the Student Counseling Service were very dismayed at the posting of such a heinous flyer in a residence hall on campus.
As many others have already expressed, there is no humor to be found in any behavior that condones or makes light of rape.
This incident demonstrates a lack of sensitivity and awareness about the realities of rape and sexual assault on the part of the individual(s) who posted the flyer.
It is most unfortunate that others have to experience the unsafe atmosphere that can develop, not just for individuals for whom such words are insulting or offensive but in fact traumatizing.
The contents of that flyer are not even imaginative; too many individuals have experienced those very assaults and had perpetrators “get away with it.”
As a community, Miami University can and already has expressed intolerance for such behavior.
Media coverage and widespread alleged facts about the incident and the response to it have run rampant.
One of the best ways a community can respond to such incidents is to take the opportunity to gain awareness of the issue at hand.
This starts with understanding why this experience stirs up so much feeling; why such words can pull at our common humanity and make us angry, hurt, disgusted, indignant, confused, traumatized or even avoidant of the issue. We would argue it is because they are not just words; they reflect an attitude and a viewpoint that cannot sit well with a community focused on learning, growth and self-development. This is not the most comfortable of topics for discussion but given the impact of this single flier, it is a crucial one.
This can be an opportunity to raise awareness and increase sensitivity to the true nature of sexual assault and minimize the likelihood that anyone would perpetrate on a member of this community.
Two student-led organizations on campus have made a goal of this and are available for educational programming upon request.
These groups are Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault (MARS) and Women Against Violence and Sexual Assault (WAVES).
The students in these organizations are certainly not the only students who can and do stand against rape and sexual assault on this campus – anyone can be a part of a campus voice indicating this is not okay.
It is necessary. If only out of respect for those in our community who have been hurt and could be hurt in the future. Our silence only serves perpetrators.
It is also an opportunity to learn that posting and reposting offensive and potentially traumatizing material can unnecessarily and unintentionally increase the circle of trauma for those for whom sexual assault is not just a disturbing reality but a part of their life story.
While such re-postings may have the intent of educating, raising awareness, reporting on an issue or trying to put strong feelings into some form of action (an understandable desire), there is a balance in how to effectively communicate the heinous nature of something without giving more oxygen to a fire that never should have been lit.
In a time of rapid news and social media we have a great tool at our disposal to express important information, feelings and thoughts, but we also have the responsibility of thinking about the impact of what we put out into the world.
Bearing that in mind, we want to ensure that anyone who may be experiencing emotional or psychological upset related to this incident know that help is available through the following services: Student Counseling Service (529-4634), the Psychology Clinic (523-2423), and the Community Counseling and Crisis Center and its 24/7 Rape Crisis Program (523-4146).
Melissa Auringer, Psy.D. is Coordinator of Women’s Services.
John Ward, Ph.D. is Coordinator of Men’s Services, Advisor of MARS Miami University Student Counseling Service.