September was Campus Safety Awareness month, and for some university students, the school year is already off to a rough start. In the short first four weeks of school, Ohio University received a dozen reports of sexual assault. From the beginning, the #Metoo movement has been a catalyst for many to report what would have otherwise remained a hidden secret. This increase in reporting and the elevated national conversation surrounding sexual assault is forcing us all to examine the power of our words and actions. What are we doing to stop these horrific attacks, and how can we improve?
As reported in USA Today, the students of OU not only asked these tough questions but began acting to change the culture on their campus. During Welcome Weekend, some sororities and fraternities on campus hung messages outside of their houses addressing consent and rape culture: “No Does Not Mean Convince Me,” “Our Bodies Our Rules,” and “Stand with Survivors.” Some students wielded technology to their advantage. Two seniors used the popular Groupme app to create an open chat room that student can join to request a safe escort across campus. Others decided to share their stories in the hopes of encouraging survivors to come forward to either report a crime or seek help if they have been assaulted.
In a statement released by Ohio University, president M. Duane Nellis stated, “One sexual assault anywhere is one too many. In our community, we will not tolerate such behavior. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.” (USA Today, 2018) As a community, we must all come together and do our part to help end sexual violence. What the students at Ohio University have done should be a powerful reminder to assailants— any type of assault will never be tolerated, and we are taking notice. Together, we can work to implement changes and systems that will end rape culture and eliminate sexual violence in our communities and on our campuses.