Everywhere you go on campus, you can always see a blue light. They are supposed to serve as signs of comfort and security. Xavier prides itself on its safety, with XUPD circling campus often and posters with hotlines plastered everywhere.
But no matter how many police officers and posters we have, Xavier’s campus will always be dangerous. College campuses will always be dangerous, because the world is dangerous.
Science and technology have put people on the moon. We have planes, trains and cars, not to mention minicomputers we carry around in our pockets. And even with all this advancement, the people of the world still have not figured out how to respect each other on the most basic level. Violent crimes such as murder, assault and rape are still highly prevalent both globally and locally.
According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, between January and April of 2020, there were 30 homicides in the city of Cincinnati. Despite this violence, Cincinnati is generally considered to be a safe city. Similarly, Xavier is considered to be a safe campus.
Sadly, even though Xavier has a strong reputation and many strategies in place to promote safety, violent crimes continue to occur on campus, namely rape. As reported by the U.S. Department of Education, 14 rapes occurred on campus in 2018. Those 14 reported rapes, along with all the other sexual assaults that went unreported, still occurred despite all the precautions put in place to prevent them from happening.
No amount of blue lights or XUPD patrols can stop these crimes from happening, as many of these assaults occur in campus housing behind closed doors. Obviously, a different course of action needs to be taken to help eliminate this issue.
The traditional methods of curbing crime are not doing the trick when it comes to stopping sexual assault on college campuses. We must go back to the source and stop these crimes before they occur. The only way to decrease the number of victims is to decrease the number of perpetrators. This can only be done if there is a societal shift, one that redefines what the appropriate way to treat others is. Through making these widespread changes in social norms, we can educate possible perpetrators and change the culture around sexual assault.
Some of this work has already begun. Awareness has been the first major step towards change, especially on Xavier’s campus. Before even stepping foot on campus, incoming students are required to complete an online training course on sexual harassment and assault. The training includes an abundance of important information that relates to sexual violence. As I worked through the training myself, I watched videos of hypothetical situations that could have turned into something unsafe, learned skills to protect myself and others, and I was educated on how to help try to defuse negative situations before they can result in an attack. Consent was defined multiple times and was highlighted throughout the training.
In doing this training, I felt encouraged by the fact that all incoming students were required to partake in this program. I had some hope that issues of consent and assault would be greatly decreased based on the general understanding the student body has on the issue. I was sadly mistaken.
Once on campus, I discovered that many of my peers paid little to no attention to their training. Some had simply clicked through the modules — important information being blatantly ignored. Unfortunately, the unifying understanding I had hoped for quickly faded away. I had hoped for change. The tools for change were put in our hands, but for some reason we continued to ignore them.
While the blue lights and the XUPD officers do help me to feel safer here, campus will never truly be safe until the people in it are truly dedicated to making change. It cannot be a select few that take the issue of sexual assault to heart; it must be all of us. We all must make the choice to educate ourselves and respect each other if our campus, or the world, is ever going to become a safe place.