Sexual assault and rape culture on campus

As a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota, I was disturbed and saddened to hear of the sexual assault of a student in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood last week.

As a feminist and political activist on campus, I am unsatisfied with President Eric Kaler’s recent response in the Minnesota Daily to the question of the Minnesota Student Association’s proposed sexual assault policy.

Kaler’s dismissal of the question by deferring to the expertise of the Aurora Center is a microcosm of a larger problem of University administrators failing to take ownership of the problem of sexual assault on our campuses, and of men generally failing to take responsibility for their part in creating and sustaining a culture that tolerates sexual violence against women.

Rape culture refers to the normalization and high prevalence of sexual assault stemming from sexism in our society. Combatting these normalized ideas is not a job for feminists alone; we need everyone to take ownership of the problem. Kaler, in particular, needs to educate himself about the issue that affects so many students on his campus. Further, he needs to take action to ensure our campus is safe for everyone.

He could start by adopting a more progressive sexual assault policy, such as the one proposed by MSA. It is not the responsibility of women to make sure they don’t get raped: It is everyone’s responsibility to not rape.