At the start of the semester, students began seeing posters appear around campus anonymously. Each poster held statements and questions about sexual assault and rapists. Now around campus, there are booklets titled “Don’t Be Friends With Rapists,” with information about sexual assault. The author, a student at Ithaca College, has come forward as the one who began this campaign to bring attention to this crucial topic.
The college has resources for its students to prevent incidents and incite individual responsibility and community empathy. Resources that students and members of the community can see online include the Rave Guardian app and the Safe Escort. The college also has many resources under the program IC Responsibility that leads workshops on bystander intervention and educating students on consent and self-care.
However, even with these resources, these conversations are not commonplace in our community, hence why senior Aiden Nelson made the choice to try to distribute the zine so that these conversations could begin to happen in a day-to-day setting and not just at freshman orientation. There are so many resources that many students are unaware they have access to, and they don’t know what these resources look like. It can be intimidating to be told you can enter this random office and speak with strangers about personal and traumatizing details.
These spaces are meant to be safe spaces and welcoming, but when students aren’t familiar with them or are just completely unaware they existed before a certain point, it makes it difficult for a student to feel confident or comfortable using this resource. There are some students who are unaware of what the Title IX office does and what goes into making a Title IX report.
Considering the fact that 13% of all college students experience rape or sexual assault, and that women ages 18–24 are at an elevated risk of experiencing sexual violence, it is necessary that everyone on campus is aware of the resources available to them. Social media has such a huge impact in communicating with students. If these offices could take the time to create informative and interactive posts, it would allow students to be able to share this information on their personal platforms and curate consistent conversations among students and community members. Being creative with how information is distributed is key. There are many complicated aspects to these situations, and learning how to navigate them and how to act on them is the first step.
While education and awareness is necessary, Nelson makes a very important point in the zine: there must be accountability for those who commit sexual assault. In the zine, Nelson wrote that never harassing or assaulting people is not worth praise and does not make you a good person. It makes you a normal human.