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Sexual Assault Awareness Test is a Step in the Right Direction

As the years go by, more and more students are being raped or sexually assaulted on campus, according to kgw.com. In the last few years, it seems to have been especially bad.

At the University of Montana (UM), students are now required to watch an online video on sexual assault awareness and score a 100 percent on a quiz about the video that will be given to them afterwards. If a student doesn’t get all seven of the questions correct, he/she cannot register for the next semester’s classes. However, students who don’t pass at first can immediately retake the quiz. The purpose of this test is to help students become more aware of what is going on at the university and to minimize the occurrence of sexual assaults.  According to cnn.com, Missoula (the county in which UM is located) is known as “America’s Rape Capital.” UM has been especially at risk for sexual assaults compared to other universities. In fact, there have been 11 alleged sexual assaults involving UM students over the last 18 months alone, according to insiderhighered.com

First of all, it is amazing that colleges are finally doing something about this worldwide problem. It took them long enough to come to their senses. The thing is, people don’t realize just how scary, frustrating and overwhelming the aftermath is for a rape victim. They will never fully understand unless they have been through it or they know someone personally who has been through it. Although I have never been sexually assaulted in any way, shape or form, I know people who have, and I sympathize with them. Sure, they try to depict rape scenes in some television shows, such as Degrassi, but in reality, it’s much more violent than what is shown.

This test will benefit the students at UM, especially those who go out often. Many of the questions on the test website, Personal Empowerment Through Self Awareness (PETSA), will help students know what to do in these types of situations, so that, hopefully, a sexual assault won’t occur. An example question is: “If you see two drunk friends leaving a party together, what should you do?”

Thankfully, so far, the test has improved the way that students see things regarding the dangers of sexual assault. According to insiderhighered.com, Danielle F. Wozniak (an Associate Professor of Social Work and co-chair of Montana’s University Council on Student Assault who recommended and helped develop the student test) says, “Student feedback has been really, really positive; especially from women who have lived with this issue all their lives…. They are just all saying, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing this out in the open, thank you for being able to talk about it, thank you for doing this.’ ” Zachary Brown, a senior and President of the Associated Students at UM, says, “I think it’ll make a lot of people question different sexual interactions they’ve had in their lives. The videos are very provocative. I think they’re going to spur a lot of emotions and reactions from people, positive and negative, and I think they’ll make people uncomfortable in many situations, which ultimately is probably a good thing, from my perspective.” By the looks of it, it seems that UM’s idea is going as planned.

Although there are a lot of students who believe that taking this test is helpful, there are certainly those who aren’t thrilled at all with the idea and who complain. So, let me get this straight then. You can’t dedicate an hour of your time to educate yourself on something that might possibly save yourself or someone a lot of hurt? I’ll try to put it simpler…suck it up! If you want to stay in school that badly, you would pay close attention to the video, that way you would get all the answers right. It’s not as if it were a difficult exam that consists of 50 questions anyway.

Just because other schools aren’t as susceptible to cases of rape, doesn’t mean that only The University of Montana should implement this test. The more people are aware, the less people fall victim to sexual assaults. The University of Tampa could use that sort of approach, considering that we have had our share of a few rapes on campus. I had the chance to interview a UT student who was raped in the Brevard dorm building last year. What’s even more shocking is that the rapist was actually one of the RAs. “I was definitely in shock. I know it might sound a little far-fetched, but I was just hoping the whole time that he wasn’t going to kill me afterwards, because he was being pretty violent. Afterwards, I walked back to my dorm soaking wet (he had taken me into the shower at one point) and shaking. I immediately went to my RA and broke down crying in his room and told him everything,” the girl explained.

Just from listening to the rape victim, I could tell how horrific the event was for her. It just goes to show how serious this type of crime is and knowing how bad it is makes it more necessary to try to prevent it. However, you can see through her bright face that she has grown from the experience.  “Now, when I’m going out, I’m extra careful about staying with friends. I think a lot of girls don’t see it as a possibility and think, ‘That could never happen to me’– but it does happen”, she says.  When asked what her thoughts were about the UM test, she said, “I like that the University of Montana started that test. I know UT has a test sort of like this, but it’s not sufficient. I took the test before my freshman year and I don’t remember any of it. It needs to be more extensive. This is coming from someone who was raped.”

Well, there you have it: the world is a cruel place. Ultimately, we need to educate ourselves on rape instead of remaining naïve until something serious really does come our way.
Madison Irwin can be reached at madison.irwin@spartans.ut.edu

2 Comments on Sexual Assault Awareness Test is a Step in the Right Direction

  1. Disappointed // September 14, 2012 at 6:09 pm //

    I am very disappointed in this article and I am rather shocked that it was published. I’m all for freedom of speech, but this article not only gets facts wrong, it is also hugely insulting to those that have been victimized. I’ve spoken to other readers and everyone has gotten the same message: The school should educate students so they don’t get assaulted. Education is extremely helpful- victim blaming isn’t.

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  2. When I saw this article, I thought it would have the potential to make some great points and bring attention to something that is desperately needed in universities across the country, but I was disappointed to be proven wrong.
    The part that really troubled me was where Irwin recounts a student’s rape and then said, “However, you can see through her bright face that she has grown from the experience.”
    As the victim of sexual assault, I can assure you that you do not grow from it. You learn from it; you learn how vulnerable you are, how cruel some people can be, the extent that some people are able to hurt others, and just how much or how little your body- but more importantly, your mind- can handle. There are many words to describe the emotional process following rape, but “growth” is not one of them.
    I can see that the writer is trying to create a solid conclusion to her story, but it was tactless to follow the recount of such a brutal rape with a ‘happy ending, we’ve all learned something.”
    She says, “Although I have never been sexually assaulted in any way, shape or form, I know people who have, and I sympathize with them.” Just…. No. I don’t know what the protocol is for these type of articles, but the fact that a writer who has never experienced something feels qualified to write her opinion on it (and have it published) based on the fact that she knows people who have been raped shows some serious oversight by those assigning and overlooking articles.
    For an article with such potential, I cannot find the words to describe how I felt by the time I reached the end of it. If you’re going to bring up such a serious topic and evoke such strong emotions from a handful of your readers, at least make a point.
    I can only leave this advice for the author, who clearly got in over her head: next time, when you’re not completely aware of the gravity of a topic and how your readers may view your approach, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

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