No one likes sexual assault. In fact many students and student groups here at Georgetown work fervently to put an end to sexual assault on our campus. While many students organize events, put up posters and hold rallies to educate our community about the horrors of sexual assault, there are no students who hold rallies to explain its benefits. It seems to be an issue we can all agree on: rape, molestation, stalking – all of these are horrible tragedies, and we would prefer to prevent them from even happening in the first place.

Why is it then, if no one can claim to be “pro-sexual assault,” that one out of every four college females will become a victim of rape? (Robin Warshaw’s I Never Called It Rape: The Ms. Report on Recognizing, Fighting, and Surviving Date and Acquaintance Rape.) If no one claims to want to participate in sexual assault, how can Take Back the Night claim that in 2001 there were 72 cases of reported sexual assault? And how can it be that no one here at Georgetown will admit to being supportive of sexual assault, yet when one of our students is raped, she is given no administrative support and silenced – all the while the community consequently remains oblivious to the violent act that violated our community’s trust?

Somewhere amid all of our university’s “anti-sexual assault” jargon lie some forces working not against sexual assault – but for it. Sexual assault is insidious; often times if you are not working to end it, you are allowing it to perpetuate. However, it is not a question of responsibility. Instead, it is a question of obligation. Georgetown’s administration and faculty are obligated to work toward providing a safe and healthy environment for all of their students – even when they themselves are not the actual perpetrators of the violent crimes.

Once again, this is a statement that no one, in our administration, will openly oppose. However, their actions (and most often lack of action) speak the truth. Just before Christmas break, I joined an ad hoc group of students (now known as Advocates for Improved Response Methods to Sexual Assault) who were concerned about the procedures through which our administration handles cases of sexual assault. At Georgetown, victims of sexual assault are forced to keep their stories silent, and since November we have not had a Sexual Assault and Relationship Coordinator to which victims can report and seek support. Seeing many issues of grave concern, we organized ourselves, researched, and have now created two reports which document these grievances, and these have been handed to the administrators themselves.

It is a very serious situation when our administration does more to prevent cheating on a midterm than the raping, molestation and stalking of several of our students. More money, time and effort are put into preventing the theft of university property than the theft of our university’s females’ bodies and dignity. It is absolutely imperative that our administration heeds the research and advice of the AFIRMS report and acknowledges the gravity of this situation. Women at Georgetown should be able to spend their time studying new ideas and theories in their courses, establishing constructive relationships with the faculty and other students, as well as contributing positively to the Georgetown community as a whole. Victims should not have to spend their time here recuperating and repairing themselves, all the while feeling ostracized from a community that tolerated an act it had previously claimed to condemn.

Sexual assault is not just a problem for me as a woman, my female friends, our administrators, or the individuals who perpetrate these acts – it is a problem for our entire community. And if we don’t all work to prevent it, we will merely be allowing it to perpetuate. The AFIRMS report meets that challenge; it documents the problems our community has and offers solutions that benefit our community as a whole. Meanwhile, sexual assault thrives on silence. The longer our victims are forced to remain silent and not allowed to share their stories with our community, the longer we will all be living in oblivion to the violent acts that compromise our very own safety. While no one on our campus may publicly claim to be in favor of sexual assault, that’s simply not enough. Their silence will accomplish more for sexual assault that any number of words. It already has.

Mary Nagle is a sophomore in the College.

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