Deserving a larger audience

According to a 2007 survey at 14 Minnesota colleges and universities, more than one in five female students reported experiencing actual or attempted sexual assault. As a result, campuses like the University of Minnesota are using Department of Justice grant money to address the issue by creating sexual assault awareness and prevention groups for men. A similar group, already in operation at the St. Cloud State campus, consists of eight male volunteers who regularly meet to discuss advocacy and action strategies for the prevention of rape and sexual assault. The groupâÄôs goal is to change the way men perceive sexual assault in an often objectifying, commercial world of sex-laden advertising. Here at the University, the Aurora Center, operating under the Office of Student Affairs, has adopted a program addressing the issue by targeting a new audience. Jill Lipski Cain, a coordinator for the Aurora Center, critically presents hyper-suggestive advertising and music with rape overtones âÄî âÄúpop a little champagne and a couple EâÄôs, slip it in her bubblyâÄù âÄî to volunteer college men, some fraternity members. It is essential to fund programs with the goals of prevention and raise awareness. But are these volunteer menâÄôs programs the best way to allocate limited resources? While the same 2007 survey found men commit sexual assault or rape at rates four times higher than women, advocates like Lipski Cain are wasting their time preaching to the choir: informed male volunteers, who are already unlikely to commit rape or sexual assault. It would better serve women and the broader University community for advocacy centers like Aurora to expand upon rape and sexual assault prevention pieces at Welcome Week or to use targeted public service announcements by putting more posters on the inside of menâÄôs bathroom stalls on campus.