As a senior nursing student who is interested in public health, I believe it is necessary to look at the literature when examining college campus health and criminal activity.
In the past year, although the Minnesota Student Association has done a wonderful job with the “No Gray” campaign, which focuses on ensuring sexual consent, there are still elements to intervention that need to be tailored to a college campus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Justice state that alcohol use is a large risk factor for both sexual assault perpetrators and victims, especially on college campuses.
Let me be clear — this is not victim blaming. According to the World Health Organization, a risk factor can be defined as “any attribute, characteristic or exposure of an individual that increases the likelihood of developing a disease or injury.” For example, obesity is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes mellitus.
The consumption of alcohol on college campuses is an overwhelming risk factor for sexual assault. In fact, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) claims four out of five college students drink alcohol — and about half of the college students who drink do so by binge drinking.
An individual must have a clear mental state in order to give sexual consent. However, since there is so much alcohol flowing on college campuses, how can anyone give consent in such a heavily toxic environment?
Yes, sexual assault on campus is everyone’s problem. Therefore, the University of Minnesota needs to introduce targeted interventions that decrease student alcohol consumption. These could include media campaigns, enforcing laws against buying alcohol for minors, prohibiting alcohol sponsorship on or near campus and limiting the number of venues that sell alcohol near campus.
According to the NIH, there is evidence to suggest a higher concentration of alcohol venues increases alcohol-related problems. In addition, evidence suggests a lower concentration of alcohol venues decreases alcohol-related problems.
Paired with the “No Gray” campaign, the solutions above are complementary interventions that can help decrease sexual assault on campus and are evidence based.