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Editorial

‘It’s on Us’ panel brings about sex assault discussions

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October 1, 2015

The “It’s on Us” event on Monday, Sept. 28, had a lot going for it: an emotional and thought-provoking documentary, a panel discussion with knowledgeable experts and a turnout of over 200 students and community members, all led by a well-meaning Student Senate. Even Chipotle, a restaurant popular among college students, came out to cater the event. But what the event also included was a controversial comment from Gregg Heinselman, associate vice chancellor for student affairs and Title IX coordinator for UW-River Falls.

Title IX, which concerns sexual discrimination and sexual assault-related issues, is an important part of any university striving for equality.

Heinselman was one of the panel experts for the event, and took that opportunity to talk about Title IX. But what he also talked about was alcohol and what women could do to avoid being sexually assaulted. He mentioned that, for their safety women shouldn’t get high or drunk, because it makes them vulnerable for sexual assault. Immediately after, angered students took to social media to voice their concerns about what they considered to be very insensitive comments.

We can see why this would be taken badly; allegations raised against the comment largely concerned their feelings that Heinselman was suggesting that women who drink or get high are “asking for it.” It would certainly be prudent for Heinselman to choose his words carefully, especially as someone whose job it is to deal directly with Title IX, sexual assault and sexual violence at the university.

According to the UW-River Falls Campus Security and Fire Safety Report, UWRF had no reported sexual assaults in 2013, the most recent date available, and one reported sexual assault in 2012. In River Falls, there were nine reported sexual assaults in 2013 and four in 2012, according to the River Falls Police Department.

Data provided from “Sexual Assault, Sexual Violence, Safety Data UW-River Falls,” which includes 2012 data concerning acts of sexual aggression, gives us more insight on rates of these crimes. For example, 1 percent of females at UWRF who took the survey reported having been sexually penetrated without consent in 2012. Worth noting is that no statistic is available concerning males being made to penetrate, i.e. female-on-male rape.

Although these statistics can be seen as low, it should be noted that some victims of sexual assault and sexual violence do not come forward for a variety of reasons.

The most important thing that we can do is a campus is work together, regardless of gender, to keep UWRF a safe and comfortable college for all men and women who attend it. In that sense, this truly is on us.