BY ELIZABETH SCHMITT
On the St. Norbert College Campus, off campus properties and adjacent properties in 2011, there were 11 reported forcible sex offenses, according to the St. Norbert College 2013 Security and Fire Safety Annual Report. This statistic of 11 does not include the offenses that were not reported. These include rape, forcible sodomy, penetration with an object and forcible fondling. The campus response to this issue is a mandatory online training that discusses federal and state laws about sexual assault, dating violence and stalking. The hour-long course also discusses survivor rights and resources and the importance of consent before sexual encounters.
While this step to educate the community and prevent sexual violence on our campus is a small one, it is a step in the right direction. The entire community is required to participate, which is crucial in effecting change. Though the training was a good step, I believe this campus and it’s response to sexual assault is still severely lacking. The training did not require discussion, critical thought or active participation. The text of the training itself was also very difficult to read. This alone detracts from the effectiveness of the training.
The training was not at all visible. Reading 100 slides alone does not build community around the issue of sexual violence. Individual commitment and acknowledgement of the problem is critical. However, had a training been held on campuswith the entire community in attendance, the commitment to preventing sexual violence would have been more visible and likely more impactful.
What is most frustrating is that the training was not a statement of absolute intolerance. It was informative, but not a condemnation of the sexual violence that has occurred already at SNC. To prevent sexual violence on this campus and campuses across the country, we need programs, speakers, events and lectures that say simply: One act of sexual violence is too many.
Simply informing the community of the definitions of consent and various forms of sexual violence and then explaining the laws that protect survivors is not enough. I am glad I now know my rights as a potential survivor under Title IX and SaVE. But what does that do for me, or for anyone, in terms of prevention? Nothing. We need zero tolerance programming with the weight of the college and its resources behind this cause.
This campus should use the training as a starting point to begin doing everything in our power to inform the community, educate the campus and prevent sexual violence. We need events such as: Take Back the Night, the Vagina Monologues, a Slut Walk and speakers on masculinity and rape culture, to name a few. The more that the program is visible, the better.
More needs to be done to bring the number of “forcible sexual offenses” down to 0. It is now up to students, faculty and staff alike to commit to programs and events that prevent sexual violence against St. Norbert students. There is absolutely no reason why St. Norbert should have any instances of sexual violence. We should devote as many resources as we can to have absolutely no tolerance for sexual violence. It is ridiculous to think that a certificate of completion for sexual violence awareness training is enough to prevent sexual violence. The only certificate of completion this campus needs is a security report that stamps a 0 in the box labeled “forcible sex offences.” If this campus devotes itself to prevention, we can reach the goal of having zero acts of sexual violence.