Educate X on violence against women

Mo Juenger is a first-year Philosophy, Politics and the Public and Spanish double major. She is a staff writer for the Newswire from Kings Mills, Ohio.

Last Sunday, we celebrated the first day of Women’s History Month. Every March, I’m reminded  how far women have come in society; the progress, the achievements and the modern revolution of feminism and womanism have led us into a world in which gender-based violence is slowly becoming less systemic.

While this is a beautiful demonstration of a hard fight toward equality, using Women’s History Month to only highlight the positive aspects of womanhood allows harmful myths to persist on and off campus.

It’s important to use this month to reflect on the reality of the current state of women in society. True, it is better than a hundred years ago, but even at Xavier we suffer from the generalization of this perspective as a collective uptick in women’s safety.

I often hear some variation of this phrase on campus repeated by well-intentioned women: “I feel so safe on campus.” This sentiment is dangerous.

Xavier provides sufficient support for women on campus in the traditionally accepted sense: from Blue Boxes to well-lit parking lots to XUPD rides. Women interpret these provisions by distinguishing Xavier’s campus as a haven from the perceived danger of Norwood or downtown Cincinnati.

However, this perspective lulls us into an easily misinterpreted sense of security. While Xavier’s campus provides us with features that can help to prevent violence, these are not the typical acts of campus violence against women.

Almost 60% of campus sexual assaults occur in a dorm room or house. Gender and power-based violence occurs anywhere, and well-lit parking lots are only a small fraction of the solution.

A second and far more poignant statistic regards our athletic stature. Student athletes are three times more likely to be named in a Title IX case than an average student.

Our student athletes undergo mandatory training sessions on sexual assault, and this is important. Training those who are statistically the most likely to commit this crime is proven to decrease instances of campus sexual assault. But this is not sufficient.

Upon your entrance to Xavier, you were required to complete an online training course regarding alcohol and gender-based violence. After that, students are set free onto campus.

It’s true that there are ample opportunities to learn about power and gender-based violence: BRAVE peer educators, our Title IX staff and many others. These, however, are not mandatory. The majority of students will not attend training that could impact the lives of any student on campus.

To only make mandatory the training of the statistically most likely group is nonsensical; further mandatory sexual assault training needs to be given to students who will be the active bystanders who help avoid these acts.

We need training that goes beyond a two-hour online course during the summer. Xavier must implement active  and supervised power and gender-based violence education programs that students can’t walk away from, haplessly click through or ignore altogether. Training needs to be given to every student because every student is at risk of being assaulted.

This doesn’t mean women on campus should be afraid. It means that we need to work to demythologize the low standard of safety which we have set for ourselves.

This Women’s History Month, I urge you to become educated on campus power and gender-based violence. Speak to a peer educator, attend an event or ask a staff member how you can begin to make a real change on Xavier’s campus.