Sexual Assault at Emory

The main takeaway message I got from our discussion with Lauren Bernstein was that the prevention and control of sexual assault is extremely complicated. As Armstrong outlines, “processes at individual, organizational, and interactional levels contribute to high rates of sexual assault” [1]. Individual expectations combine within a policy that promotes male controlled party atmosphere. This ‘heterosexual script’ defines the sexual interaction between young men and women, and increases the likelihood of sexual assault. Whereas Armstrong calls for a decrease in alcohol usage and abolition of this gendered party scene, I agree more alone the lines of ¬¬ Lauren Bernstein [1].  Emory policy prohibits freshmen from visiting fraternity row for a certain period each year. Anyone who believes this actually prevents young men and women from going is certainly being naïve. Underage drinking happens, and it is likely going to continue to happen in the absence of fraternity presence. Within the recent press about the 7 instances of sexual assault occurring on Emory’s campus, the majority of focus has been placed on Greek life’s role. Of the 7 reports, only 2 were involved with fraternities. This suggests that this is not only a Greek problem; it is a campus problem.
Policy is not going to be able to change the culture of Emory. Students themselves need to be able to place value in getting rid of the ‘rape culture’. It should not be a pre-arrival online education module. It needs to be an interactive process where the actual reasons behind sexual assault can be understood and combated. With the removal of Emory’s Health and Physical Education requirements, it seems we are moving in the wrong direction. The other aspect that I do think will help stop these acts from occurring is the prevalence of organizations and events devoted to stopping assault. Increased awareness allows people to see that there is a problem and will help promote discourse about a somewhat taboo topic. 

Finally, I think it is important not only to consider this topic within only our setting. I liked someone’s assertion in class about the focus often being placed on college as the only instance where sexual assault or rape occurs. In our context, Emory’s campus, yes it is important to understand sexual violence from the collegiate context, but it is also important to remember that these acts occur in other societal places as well. It may be that colleges, often with increased support services for victims relative to outside society, have increased reporting of violence and thus the appearance that it occurs more often in this scene. A change in this larger context of sexual assault and rape will subsequently lead to a change in the ‘rape culture’ of colleges as well. This problem extends into many aspects of society and can only be prevented if we use an approach that considers the complexity of these factors.

1- Armstrong EA. Sexual Assault on Campus: A Multilevel, Integrative Approach to Party Rape. Pg 480-494.

One thought on “Sexual Assault at Emory

  1. Kien bean: your post addresses many of the same topics as Team STI’s. Please take a look at his comment section for my thoughts on the importance of training students for life beyond campus. You say in your post “It needs to be an interactive process where the actual reasons behind sexual assault can be understood and combated.” And I am wondering what could that interactive process look like? I agree that most people learn more when they are interacting or physically invested in something. Do you think some sort of interactive participatory theater project might work? Where students could collaboratively write up scenarios about sexual assault and communication during sex and then actually act them out. We have done similar work with faculty around conflict resolution and I find that practicing strategies helps us to embody them. Would this work at Emory or is it too touchy-feely?

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