Making Our Campus Safer

Recent discussions were catalyzed by ‘It Happens Here’, (Frankly Speaking Oct 2012). Spurred by these discussions, three students approached Frankly Speaking about publishing a moderated discussion on what the Olin community can do to prevent rape. This is an excerpt of that discussion.

FRANKLY: How can we best prevent rape at Olin?

HART: I think that a lot of it has to do with the attitude that we take towards sexuality. Our culture is what I would describe as a “sex-saturated” culture which reinforces a casual mindset of sex without consequences. I think that when we perpetuate that mindset, people’s inhibitions are lowered. Then you end up with people who commit rape.

I would also point to the prevalence of pornography in our culture as one of the big reasons why men in particular feel it’s okay to objectify women. Our media, our music, and our movies perpetuate that cycle, as does the way we talk and joke about sex. We need to stand against these influences, hold each other accountable, and say there are certain behaviors that we’re not going to tolerate.

FARISON: I think that we’ve heard a lot about what rape is, but I don’t think people really have good examples of what healthy relationships look like. If you don’t have a good example of what a healthy relationship or even a healthy hook-up looks like, what are you striving for? You don’t really have anything to follow. If we have more healthy examples of relationships, that could also help prevent things like date rape or rape within marriage, which are not necessarily addressed in any other way. [Ed.: The following paragraph of Molly’s statement was added later]

People don’t communicate well during sex, so when people don’t communicate well during rape, it’s hard to distinguish between rape and consensual sex. Having good communication be a part of typical sex would make the difference between sex and rape much more clear.

DILLER: I think the best way to prevent rape is to address the community. Not everyone knows what rape looks like. People yell “Rape!” jokingly a lot, and personally, it really offends me. It’s not considered an actual issue.

One specific example of community engagement I think is really great is the BARCC (Boston Area Rape Crisis Center). They said “This is what rape looks like, this is how you help rape victims, these are the signs that you should look for.” I’m so glad Olin has that to offer for people.

FRANKLY: What cultural changes do you think we need to make to achieve your vision?

HART: I think a point that we can all agree on is that it’s really important for victims of rape to have some place that they can go where they can get help. I think the R2s did a very good thing at the beginning of this year. [Ed.: In September hall meetings, East Hall R2s talked with students about not joking about rape.] I admired that, but I think we have to take that a step further and say “We shouldn’t be joking about who you’re going to hook up with at the party.”

We need to hold each other accountable and say there are certain behaviors, words, and actions that we’re not going to tolerate. And if we see those things happening we’re going to say something. We have it written in our honor code to “Do Something” and I think that ties into this area, too.

DILLER: One of our main goals should be to hold rapists accountable. They don’t think that society is defining what they’re doing as rape.

FARISON: I think consent, and not knowing what consent looks like is part of people not being good at communicating. Fostering a culture where good communication during sex is expected would make rape more obvious and easier to act on.

To continue this discussion, contact Jeff, Molly, or Jessica. If you or someone you know needs help visit www.barcc.org/help/