It was Thursday, Sept. 2 during N-period. Amy Bremel and members of PAC, Peer Advocates for Change, were giving out Got Consent shirts- shirts meant for those to wear to help take a stance against rape culture on campus and promote happy, consensual sex. The shirts were all given away in around half an hour, a record amount of time. More males than ever had taken these shirts, which seems like an awesome feat on the surface.
However, many of these men did not have noble motives. They were seen around campus taking pictures in and mocking the shirts. Even in line, a student sprayed others with water, and another student joked, “That’s not consensual.” That phrase in particular can be heard a lot on campus.
According to the most recent Castleton University Campus Safety and Security report, the reported numbers of rape, sexual assault, and domestic and dating violence have decreased in recent years from 2017-2019. Does this mean that sexual and dating violence are no longer a problem at Castleton?
With students making a joke out of sexual assault, one crossing out the word ‘consent’ on the shirt and replacing it with a drug, it’s easy to see that there is a culture at Castleton still promoting this violence, and it needs to be called out. Several studies, such as one by Kathryn M. Ryan and Jeanne Kanjorski, as well as one by Thomas E. Ford, showed that men who enjoy sexist jokes and/or jokes about rape are more likely to have a proclivity to rape, meaning a liking or acceptance of rape.
According to the Rape Assault Incest National Network, two out of three sexual assaults go unreported to the police. Of that number, only 8% of victims report to a different official, meaning that out of 1,000 sexual assaults, 630 of them go completely unreported.
There are many unreported cases of rape and sexual violence on college campuses, including Castleton, three of which were spotlighted in last semester’s Spartan newspaper article, “Castleton survivors share stories of sexual trauma,” by Sophia-Buckley Clement and Aris Sherwood.
Consent is not a joke. Touching someone inappropriately is not a joke. Rape and sexual assault are perpetuated by rape culture. I encourage other students to listen to their peers’ stories and understand why joking about rape and sexual assault is not okay if they are confused by this concept.
Listen to the presentations you hear from the Wellness Center, Amy Bremel, and PAC. The reason you think you’re hearing the same statistics over and over is because you need to hear them. Numbers aren’t just numbers; they’re people. Just as the people that are groped non-consensually at a party, or intimidated and followed to their dorms, or coerced into having sex — have names, faces, and feelings.
Put the passion you have for keeping Castleton University’s namesake into keeping yourself and your peers comfortable and safe. If you see a friend or someone making fun of rape or sexual assault, call them out and hold them accountable.
– Elizabeth LaLumiere