Page'4A - Wednesday, September 24, 2014
The Michigan Daily michigandaily.com
Page 4A - Wednesday, September 24, 2014 The Michigan Daily michigandailycom
C ihigan Batip
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Ann Arbor, MI 48109
PETER SHAHIN and DANIEL WANG KATIE BURKE
EDITOR IN CHIEF EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS MANAGING EDITOR
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board.
All other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
A crisis of ignorance
Sexual assault on campus can be reduced through education
Sexual assault on college campuses is enabled by a multi-
tude of influences, but cultural perceptions of women and
sex undoubtedly have a significant effect. While ill-intent
may play an undeniable role in many sexual assaults, ignorance
and societal factors are equally at work, if not more influential.
Educating university students and faculty about sexual assault
may not directly help survivors, but creating a foundation of
knowledge and compassion could potentially prevent these
awful crimes from happening in the first place.
Focusing on tc
When I told Dan Wang,
the editorial page editor
of The Michigan Daily
that I wouldn't
have this column
time, he told me
to take the week
off. He'd find a l
way to fill the
content on short
notice. While DEREK
I am beyond
of his support,
I didn't and
couldn't listen. The truth is that
this week, especially, I needed to
write. I needed a chance to muse
and reflect in between studying for
my upcoming exams and papers.
Let me tell you why.
Last Wednesday my step-
grandmother - Nani, as her
family knew her - passed away.
Though I have included the "step"
designation, by all accounts she was
my grandmother. No question about
it. She loved and treated me as one
of her own, even thoughI came into
her life nearly nine years after I was
born. To her, it didn't matter, and
I could not be more grateful. Not
many people can say they had three
grandmothers who deeply cared
I'm lucky Ann Arbor is so close
to my family because on Tuesday
night, my stepbrother drove us to
the hospital in West Bloomfield,
where I had a chance to say goodbye
one last time. Her brutal battle in
and out of rehabilitation centers
due to heart problems and several
falls ended its final chapter.
Of course, death of family and
friends happens to everyone. My
situation isn't unique, and I don't
want to portray it as such. That
beingsaid, despite all that is written
about death, it gets overlooked that
coping never gets easy. At least in
We had known her days were
numbered since January. The next
time she would have to go to the
hospital would likely be the end. So
naturally, I, and I'm sure the rest of
my family, tried to mentally prepare
for her departure from this-earth.
It started as an occasional
thought, butthe feelings accelerated
significantly after hearing she was
back in the hospital last week. The
outlook from a broken hip in old age
is nearly always grim.
"She'll no longer be suffering," I
told myself. "No one should have to
live like she did over the past year."
And so for a while I thought I'd
be fine. It was her time to go.
You have the funeral. You sit
Shiva (if you're Jewish). You move
on knowing that you had great
And for a couple of days, that was
my mindset. However, after being
updated by my dad last Wednesday
evening that she was in her final
moments, memories started
rushing back to me.
This was going to be harder than'
I thought. All the preparing I had
done was for naught.
the previous evening when I saw
her, I felt emptier knowing that she
was actually gone. A woman who
had affected my life in so many
positive ways wasn't there in flesh
anymore and would never be again.
There was never going.to be a
next time. There would be no more
family dinners with her there. No
more conversations about school
and life. The days at her pool where
she would feed us until we were
bloated were all officially just
wonderful memories now.
She could no longer tell me how
she was going to bake cookies for
me and mail them to Ann Arbor. I
never received that package. And
now I never will.
She was a wonderful, generous
lady who sported an incredible
hairstyle - a blonde poof. I know
I said it earlier, but I'm so thankful
to have known her and loved her.
And that made this past weekend
Preparing for a loved one's death
feels like a natural thing to do. We
want to cope as best we can. Sure,
you want to get some logistical
details in order, like funeral
arrangements, but the reality is that
the mental gymnastics isn't worth
it. It's impossible to prepare. You're
going to fall down at some point.
And you know what, that's OK.
Because to put it bluntly, mourning
sucks, and forcing yourself to "keep
it together" doesn't prove anything
to anyone. There's nothing wrong
with letting emotion take over, at
least for a little while.
We only have so much control over
our thoughts, so it just makes sense
to exhibit control as best we can.
We can do this by fully enjoying
the time we have with the people we
love. Stay in the present. That's why
I think that's how the sayinggoes.
Derek Wolfe can be reached
According to the controversial first report
published April 2014 by Not Alone, a White
House Task Force created by President Barack
Obama in an attempt to address sexual assault
on college campuses, approximately one in
five women ranging from freshmen to seniors
indicated that they had been sexually assaulted
at some time during their college experience.
Despite typical critiques of data sampling, each
one of these responses indicate an individual
scarred by the traumatic experience of
sexual assault who felt the need to share this
information for a greater good.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of
Education's Office of Civil Rights has their
hands full investigating78 universities charged
with mishandling sexual assault cases on
their campuses, including the University of
Michigan. In a study conducted by the Air
Force Academy in 2003, female students who
came forward to talk about their experiences
described the problem of sexual assault as
"widespread and the product of a culture
hostile toward women."
Advocates for Human Rights and The First
World Report on Violence and Health indicate
that :sexual assault seems to correlate with
social conditions - societies that honor male
physical aggressiveness, entitlement and
dominance generally have higher numbers of
sexual assault. Further exploration of sexual
roles of the "male aggressor" and the "demure
female" finds that "No" is seen as a kind of
obstacle that the male must overcome because
he is "not convinced she means it."
* This kind of aggression is unfortunately
well known on the college party scene. In
this regard, the University's Sexual Assault
Prevention and Awareness Center notes on
their website, "Alcohol use may raise certain
expectations about gender under the influence
of alcohol. Men/masculine individuals may feel
as though they are expected to be sexually/
physically aggressive, and may also ascribe
to discourse about the sexual availability of
women/feminine individuals who drink."
Faced with the facts that nearly one in five
women will be sexually assaulted during
college, that 78 universities are under federal
investigation for mishandling of sexual assault
cases, and our culture is primed with male
sexual entitlement and the objectification
of women, it's not a question of should the
University do something to stop this alarming
trend; it's what are the fastest and most
effective means of preventing sexual assault on
If society does deserve some blame for these
sexual abuses, then part of the problem must
lie in how students think of and understand
it. A 2010 study by The Kinsey Institute for
Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at
the University of Indiana found 10.9 percent of
survey respondents don't consider it "having
sex"if there's noejaculation,29 and 27.1 percent
don't consider performing or receiving oral sex
to be sex, respectively, and 55.1 percent don't
consider touching or manually stimulating a
partner's genitals to be sex either, indicating
that many sex-related crimes may be attributed
to ignorance. These blurred or misguided
definitions of what constitutes a sex act may
lead to sexual assault if the offender doesn't
consider certain acts tobe "real" sex.
The legal definition of sexual assault
generally refers to any unwanted sexual
activity. The 2010 study's findings point toward
a societal failure to adequately educate people
about sex and therefore sexual assault. Current
sex education briefly explains what sex is and
the different ways to have sex while thoroughly
covering sexually transmitted diseases. Sexual
abuse, however, is often not covered or simply
skimmed over, making it appear less important.
A more productive route would be to
educate students from a young age, eventually
developing a working knowledge of sex and
its potential for abuse as students come of
age. Confronting this issue head-on would
force students to consider the seriousness of
sexual assault as much as, if not more than,
the other risks of sex. However, changes
made for younger generations still leaves the
current student body without any immediate
confrontation with issues surrounding
sex and sexual assault. To compensate for
this, the University should lead the way by
addressing problematic cultural norms and
educating students about sexual rights.
It's unreasonable and unrealistic to place
all responsibility for student safety on the
University, but the school clearly cares about
the well-being of its students and can do more
to protect them. This begins with educating
and engaging the student body in a continuous
discussion about sex and<consent.It's important
to combat complex problems like sexual assault
at the source in order to cut down on its
recurrence - preventing a tragedy is always
better than having to deliver post-trauma care.
Currently, the University offers Haven
- an online course for incoming students
to complete the summer before freshman
year - and Relationship Remix, a 90-minute
program covering approaches toward healthy
relationships at the beginning of freshman
year. Both of these programs are described as
required, but are not seriously enforced.
The logical aim for the University should be
to implement a mini-course that is required
for all incoming students. This course
may model the current Race and Ethnicity
Requirement in its mandatory and academic
nature, or just a more in-depth orientation
type course similar to AlcoholEdu that
includes a regular discussion component.
This requirement should apply to all students
and take place during freshman year to
address the issue as a preventative measure,
instead of retroactively.
The class, more far-reaching than current
protocol, allows for time to discuss the factors
contributing to sexual assault, as well as the
definition of consent, the effects of misogyny
in our daily lives, how to step in as a bystander
and methods of practicing safe sex. Engaging
student conversation is key, as merely
presenting a slew of facts and numbers through
a computer screen can hardly be expected to
elicit any real empathy from students.
Of course, the implementation and
extension of a complete course takes
time and isn't immediately feasible.
Possible intermediary solutions include
comprehensive online courses or non-
academic weekly courses taught in the dorms
in a comfortable setting. The University
should explore its potential to truly engage
students and illustrate the significance of
consent. Michigan has the capacity to play a
key role in the protection of - and awareness
among - its students and faculty.
Gender roles and sex are shapedby societal
norms, and the effect this has on student
perception of sex and women cannot be
understated. Combating sexual crimes means
addressing ignorance, and the University has
an opportunity now to lead the way in sexual
education and prevent rape and assault on
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS
Barry Belmont, David Harris, Rachel John, Nivedita Karki,
Jacob Karafa, Jordyn Kay, Aarica Marsh, Megan McDonald,
Victoria Noble, Melissa Scholke; Michael Schramm,
Matthew Seligman, Paul Sherman, Allison Raeck, Linh Vu,
Meher Walia, Mary Kate Winn, Daniel Wang, Derek Wolfe
Lessons gatheredfrom Pussy Riot
e all held our. breath. admiring Nadya Tolokonikova's . have the ability to reclaim our
We all let our common nai polish and Masha lyokhina's power "by unleashing our refusal
eagerness cloud the shoes. I was quickly envisioning us to be silenced. But can Pussy Riot's
room. They were connecting over the latest trends and protests and tactics act as a guide for
about to appear exchanging makeup. Their presence us to follow in Ann Arbor?
magically right humanized their movement. And As with any situation, context is
before us. The y most significantly, their down- important. We may search for the
superheroes of _ to-earth presence signaled that same media and world recognition
Pussy Riot were potential revolutions are burning in our pursuits of justice, but the
inches away within each of us. It doesn't take a avenues to reach them will look
and we yearned superpower to spark the fire, but it different. Ann Arbor is often labeled
to mirror their does take courage.to unleash it. as progressive and liberal. Though
reflections. MAJA In addition, I came to see seemingly positive, these descriptors
After waiting TOSIC strength in their softness and may in fact inhibit change. It may
in lines outside uncomfortableness. They didn't blind people into truly believing
and in chairs have to flex their muscles- or raise that we have reached equality and
inside, two women of Pussy Riot, a their voices to exude strength. They liberality. To create change, in an
Russian punk rock protest group, didn't have to use their exterior institution that believes change
finally walked quickly across stage to prove that strength lay within has already been reached, requires
and sat down in the boxy leather their interior. Their presence also different tactics and a harder road
chairs positioned on-stage. They taught us that strength and courage to awakening. It's easy to reflect
stared into the audience as bright are internal qualities that reside upon Pussy Riot's imprisonment
lights and cheers pounded upon independently of appearance. You and see how injustice is rampant in
them. We all focused on them and don't have to look tough to be tough. Russia. But to do the same amongst
were met by what could only be Beyond their appearance and privileged folks in a place that deems
described as poised nervousness. poise, Pussy Riot's words taught itself as progressive is more difficult.
Our superheroes weren't flexing or us the power of their reflections In order to create protests and
chanting or smiling with cockiness and resulting actions and called for change that resemble Pussy Riot's
(no pun intended). They looked just us to. do the same. They explained efforts, the blind must first be
like you and me. that every action starts with a awakened from their deep sleep.
As Pussy Riot sat gracefully on reaction - a recognition of injustice. At this University, that task is not a
stage, they allowed us to get up Within their own lives and during small feat. If we truly wish to mirror
close and personal. Not only were their imprisonment, they came Pussy Riot, we must first tackle the
we able to lean in to their thoughts to understand how unfairly the difficulty of justifying a protest. We
and statements, but we were also low-income and incarcerated must first unveil injustice within
able to inhale their appearance. populations are treated in Russia. institutions that have become very
Their image and poise reflected back Their reaction led to their actions good at hiding it. We must first learn
upon us, and we were able to learn of protest and the formation of thatnotonlydopowerfulinstitutions
valuable lessons about one's strength their latest organization, Zona take away our right to humanity,
and ability. Prava. Their new organization but they also silence us so that the
At first, it was odd to see such hopes to provide support and legal echoes of our pain may never reach
strong and rebellious individuals rights to incarcerated populations. the surface. We must first listen to
sitting so calmly and delicately. I Throughout the interview, their these commonly threaded echoes.
had envisioned revolutionaries to responses were often interjected Then we may protest.
be beyond human - something with the encouragement for us
entirely different than myself. to disrupt similar disorder. They Maja Tosic can be reached
To my surprise, I found myself repeatedly mentioned that we too at email@example.com.
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I think that's one of the really profound parts
of this style of service is that it's driven by
students and students know students best:'
- CAPS staff psychologist Karin Arizala said about the newly
launched Wolvering Support Network in an interview with the Daily earlier this week.