*Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault, Rape and Sexual Violence

Everyone got the email last week; the one that stated that the Sexual Violence Awareness for Students course on D2L had to be completed by September 2. If not, a hold would be placed on your student account until the course has been completed. I guarantee some students groaned at this and asked why we have to spend time answering the questions and watching the videos in the course. Well, I will tell you as a woman and as someone who knows survivors of sexual violence, these videos are important. Sexual violence and rape are crimes that are committed on college campuses all over the country. It’s a real problem, and yet, our country still doesn’t punish the rapists appropriately (i.e. Brock Turner). I just wanted to highlight some of the key facts in the videos, and why completing this D2L course is so important for WSU students.

Gender Based Violence student workers talk about what it's like to put yourself in a victim's shoes. They discussed the posters they created to create awareness about the topic. (Maire McMahon '15)

Gender Based Violence student workers talk about what it’s like to put yourself in a victim’s shoes. They discussed the posters they created to create awareness about the topic.
(Maire McMahon ’15)

It’s not the victim’s fault.

Let me repeat this, it’s never the victim’s fault if he or she is assaulted. Even if they had been drinking, or if an assaulted woman was wearing a suggestive outfit. People should not rape. It’s really not that hard of a concept to understand, yet, victims (particularly women) are blamed all the time. This is what creates this rape culture that is still existing and silencing women. I shouldn’t have to say this, but I do because of the society we live in.

Ask for consent.

Saying yes to sex is consent. If someone doesn’t say yes, they are not consenting. If they are unable to communicate, that is not consent. You need to ask if interactions with the other person is okay. This, again, seems self explanatory, but some still don’t understand this important concept. If consent is not given, that’s considered rape or assault.

Men are victims too. 

I know I’ve mainly referenced women, but men can be victims/survivors of sexual assault too. Men are capable of being abusers while also being abused, and the same goes for women. Let’s not forget that.

Anyone can, and are encouraged to, intervene. 

This is crucial to preventing sexual assault. Chances are, we have seen someone who is intoxicated go home with someone else. It’s okay to step in and ask them if they’re okay and are aware of what is going on. I did this once at a social outing; I stopped a man from taking a woman home because she was drunk and I helped her home. You can either be a bystander, or you can prevent an assault from occurring. Be aware of your surroundings and help out anyone who needs it.

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This mandatory D2L course we must complete about sexual violence is an important step in preventing and responding to incidents of sexual violence. Our university has addressed this issue and acknowledges that sexual assault happens on campus. WSU is striving to create and maintain a safe campus environment, and this course increases awareness and prevention of sexual harassment and sexual violence. There are also resources available on campus for students that offer support and awareness of sexual violence.

So, if you haven’t completed this course on D2L yet, DO IT NOW! You, our campus and the Winona community will benefit.

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Mariah Kaercher

Mariah is an Exercise Science major and Nutrition minor graduating in 2017 from Plymouth, MN. Her hobbies include reading comic books, gaming on my Xbox 360 and playing with cats. She also enjoys blogging on her personal blog-- bizarrebrunette.wordpress.com -- exercising, playing board games and binge-watching superhero TV shows and Doctor Who.