Letter to the editor
Campus ‘rape trail’ needs new name, enhanced nightly security
November 14, 2014
The “rape trail”: The first time I heard this reference I was dating a UW-River Falls student, not yet a university student myself, and brushed it off as a distasteful inside joke.
I quickly discovered that was not the case; now that I am enrolled at UWRF, and have the opportunity to interact with the student body at large, it is clear that a disappointing majority of the university’s population is in on the joke.
Even those who are uncomfortable with the name, doing anything in their power to avoid it in conversation, eventually resign themselves to accepting its place in the student lexicon.
Many might argue, though, that this title is just a harmless joke, something to release the tension created by a time when “rape culture” and “sexual assault” are buzzwords of the discussion on how unsafe and predatory college campuses are. I would agree, in the sense that humor can allow us to process some of the darker aspects of the world, but at the same time this name seems to be a cry for attention. Students are recognizing the unsafe environment the back trail creates, particularly at night, but doing so in a way that dismisses the importance of fixing the over-arching issue.
The campus administration should be aware of how these perceptions of safety affect both current and potential future students and take appropriate actions to increase both perceived and real security.
I do believe that there should be a sincere effort to name the back trail, simple signs at the entrances should be sufficient, but this does not mean the origins of the “rape trail” title should just be ignored.