Ms. Bailey Beem’s story blew me away. Her honesty regarding her rape could not have been easy to recount, much less share with the campus community. As Editor in Chief, what further impressed me was her decision to attach her name to the piece after I offered her anonymity.
As a first-year, I remember hearing the Consent is Sexy story of Todd and Amy at my orientation and asking myself who would be affected by this. As a senior female, I’ve had close friends go through the horror of rape both here and at other schools, and that experience radically shapes a woman’s life.
Her honesty and courage about a subject that is too easily swept under the rug made me want to examine rape at Albion College a little closer. I feel like we, as a society, are making great strides as a whole to talk about rape, but sometimes it’s so hard to talk about it when it’s close to home. My goal for these rape pieces is to encourage a greater dialogue on our campus about the real face of rape.
All the information obtained for this piece was found online and with an interview with Ken Snyder, assistant dean of community standards and director of Campus Safety. As with Beem, I do know that women can commit rape and men can be raped, but overall, I am focusing on the larger issue of women being raped.
According to 2012 Annual Security Report emailed to students and staff in late September, there were three forcible reported rapes on campus in 2012 and two in 2011 and 2010. Subsets of those numbers are rapes reported in residence halls, including fraternities, apartments and houses. There have been two reported forcible rapes on the last three years in residence halls.
Looking back further shows that maybe we are in a downward trend in number of rapes. In 2009, there were four forcible rapes reported on campus, nine in 2008 and two in 2007. Of those numbers all four were in Residence Halls in 2009, all nine in 2008 and one in 2007.
Snyder cited the common statistic that out of every 10 rapes, one is reported and doesn’t believe Albion is much different.
“I don’t think are numbers are much better than that, I don’t know that but I think it’s safe to guess that we had more than two sexual assaults on campus last year,” Snyder said.
He believes students do not come forward for several reasons. It’s also important to note that the average time gone by from the assault to the report is a semester.
“In my experience… one of the reasons they don’t report or report right away is that the first person they talk to doesn’t believe them,” Snyder said. “They may not have overtly said ‘I don’t believe you’ but they say things like ‘Are you sure? You drank a lot last night, He’s a really nice guy, I can’t see him doing that.’ Or making other comments such as ‘Oh if you report that it may cause a hassle for the sorority, fraternity, the team” so often the first person who talks to them discourages them not on purpose, they probably think they’re being helpful.”
Another reason Snyder described why people do not come forward is the belief of survivor that it will just be their words against the perpetrator in an investigation, which is not true. The point of the investigation is to see if there is any more evidence. He also believes that the size of Albion effects the number of people coming forward, the belief that everyone will know who filed the report against whom.
Consent seems to be the difficult concept for our culture to absorb. As Beem wrote, we should change the “no means no” campaign to the “only yes means yes.” The college handbook defines consent as “willingly and verbally agreeing to specific sexual contact or conduct.” And under this policy, no one impaired by alcohol, drugs, and/or prescribed medication can consent; no one under duress or has been threatened or pressured can consent.
Even though we enter Albion College educated about consent, the definition of consent seems to still be blurry. Snyder agrees that the line of consent seems hard to define.
“There is some confusion with consent, like I came back to his room or he came back to mine, does that mean I consented? Or I said we could kiss, but I really didn’t want to have sex, does that mean I consented?” Snyder said.
My own two cents on consent is this: every situation is different. But if there is even a shadow of a doubt in your mind, or even the smallest concern that someone isn’t in the right place to consent for any reason, just don’t. It’s not worth it to either person in the situation to deal with the consequences.
A report funded by the U.S. Department of Justice indicates one in five college females will be sexually assaulted. This report was based on a study done at two large public universities. If this statistic is divided out among the roughly 600 women at Albion, the number of women who face sexual assault is 120.
Consider: 120 women. This could be your sorority sister, your teammate or the person who sits next to you in class. She has a face, she has a name, she could be you.
And if it is you, there are options. Call a sexual assault counselor; contact Campus Safety, Student Health Services or the Anna Howard Shaw Women’s Center. If there is one thing that four years at Albion has taught me, every single person on this campus is willing to help you out.
Photo via Albion College