Campus climate has normalized sexual assault and harassment

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Tense and terrified, I speed walk to my destination every time I go somewhere at night, always feeling watched and clutching my phone, desperate for any comfort or measure of safety.

I have been catcalled countless times on campus this year and have been met with questions like: “Where were you?”

“What were you doing?”

And my personal favorite, “What were you wearing?”

At the beginning of this year, I lived in Ravine, and the catcalls mostly occurred on the walk back to my room, though not all of them. I was minding my own business. I was wearing normal clothes. However, and most importantly, the answers to these questions do not matter.

Why was Joe Hall’s first question to me not, “How can we make you feel safer in your own home?”

Instead, he asked about the circumstances of the harassment. I understand the importance of reporting sexual harassment, but my main concern when men yell derogatory and demeaning remarks at me is not getting closer to see who they are and calling Public Safety; it is getting home safely and escaping the situation as fast as I can.

Each time I was catcalled, it made me angry.

Each time I was catcalled, I resolved to yell back — to tell each harasser how sleazy they were being and how their actions and attitudes hurt every single woman on campus.

The onus should not be on women to go above and beyond to prevent and report sexual assault and sexual harassment, which often involves endangering themselves in the process.

It should be on men to not shout things at women and to listen to them when they say “stop.” This is not hard; it is the bare minimum.

I do want to give credit to Allegheny for increasing Public Safety patrols to Ravine and other more remote places on campus and for moving my roommate and I out of Ravine — although I feel guilty that I got to move when I am certain that these demeaning interactions still happen to the women who live there and women across campus.

Moreover, these experiences have tainted my time at Allegheny, even though I moved. I am still anxious when crossing campus at night.

I have heard what our own students will yell at women.   

It makes me sick to my stomach to write this, but catcalling is not the worst thing that is becoming more common for women on this campus. When I told my roommate’s mom that there were four rapes and one case of dating violence reported in The Campus crime blotter over Halloweekend, she was shocked and speechless.

When I learned of these crimes, I was sad and disappointed. These traumatic experiences are not something that should ever be normalized, but Allegheny women have had to steel ourselves against the reality of life on a college campus. This is not only unacceptable, but disgusting, especially considering that the majority of rapes aren’t even officially reported.

According to Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, only 20 percent of female college students that experience this horrible trauma ever report it.

It is the responsibility of every student at Allegheny to condemn rape and harassment.

It is our responsibility to not only speak out against it, but to make sure that abusers and harassers face real consequences for their actions.

Believe women. Show up for them. And for god’s sake, if your friend is acting otherwise, let them know.