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By kelsey keranen

kelseyjanekeranen@gmail.com

The threat on campus

Created due to decades of societal pressures and the rise and fall of social stigmas, there’s an unspoken A recent increase in reported sexual assaults has brought up concern collection of topics that are too for public safety in the Iowa City community. often swept under the universal rug. Trivialized to the point of mockery and joked about until they loses any seriousness, sexual assault and harassment are some – I don’t feel comfortable walking never even thought about them if it’s consistent in that all things of the largest dust bunnies beneath around downtown at night alone, in most cases. A lot of times are actually carried through and the floor cover on which we so just because it’s been sort of taught they didn’t even remember the sustained,” she said. “A lot of times, delicately step. However, recent to me that I shouldn’t feel safe victim’s name – I don’t want them people do [make progress], but allegations at the University of there, that that’s not a safe space for remembering that information, with sexual abuse it can go right Iowa have brought to light the women.” but it angered me that the victim back to the way it was very quickly.” However, Miller thinks that, so conclusion that, even in our own The seriousness of sexual assault probably thought of them every seemingly safe little corn town, is a concept often brought into day and it didn’t even register in far, the university has been making improvements in their policy. rape is a very real issue. question by the media and society. [the rapist.]” “We haven’t gotten the total Kate Thorne ’14 recognizes that In past rape cases this year, more Thorne believes that part of this sexual assault is a reality in Iowa recently a few in Missoula County, lack of understanding is heavily compliance all the time, but there City, no matter how unfortunate. Mont., the victims have been attributed to societal negligence to have been several people at the university who have “I think in any forced to keep quiet teach the seriousness of done an excellent job community sexual about their assault sexual assault. in making sure victims assault and harassment under the juridical “We should teach don’t fall through are problems,” she said. claim “boys will be people to take sexual the cracks, ... making “It’s a pervasive problem boys.” For Karla Miller, harassment and assault sure to work with throughout American executive director of seriously and not just administration to make society and Iowa City is the University’s Rape as something that’s sure cases are handled not immune.” Victim Advocacy kind of a joke,” she said. Kate Thorne ’14 well and according to In the past two months, Audrey Hopewell ’15 Program (RVAP), this “If someone’s doing protocol,” Miller said. protests have been presumption is no something you don’t Iowa City, as safe and sheltered as breaking out across the University excuse for criminal behavior. like, they need to be taught to stop.” of Iowa campus to combat the Miller, who has firsthand The university, amidst the it may seem at first glance, is not rising number of reported rape experience with sexual outbreak of protests throughout exempt from the rape culture that cases at the university, which perpetrators, finds their lack of Iowa City, has taken moves to is present in our nation. However, went from one to seven in the regret and effective punishment to recognize the severity of this issue for Hopewell, this reality can act as a basis for constructing a sound past August-February period. foundation for public safety. Reports of sexual assault across “I think everyone has a right to the U.S. have gone up by 88% feel safe in their own community, since the US Dept. of Education A lot of times people do [make regardless of the time of day or released guidelines for a school’s progress], but with sexual abuse it whether they have someone with obligation to prevent and respond them,” she said. “We can’t forget to rape, according to the American can go right back to the way it was that this is a college campus Association of University Women. very quickly .” and that a huge amount of the These cases have made people -Karla Miller, executive director of the population in Iowa City is young question just exactly how safe they University’s Rape Victim Advocacy Program college-aged women who are are in the Iowa City area. Audrey Hopewell ’15 considers be, at the very least, concerning. and put into place a six-point plan surrounded by young college-aged walking around downtown alone at “[Officials] treat a criminal by for action against sexual assault. men and often do not feel safe night to be a hazard. sending him to a class or looking Miller believes that although around those people, especially “I think that we have a culture at them as a bad boy, believing this plan was made with good when they’re alone at night, and I where women are told that it’s that they should be let off the hook intentions, it is dependent on total think one of our priorities should be making sure that everyone feels not safe to go out by themselves, because they’re sorry,” Miller said. compliance. particularly at night or when “When I dealt with perpetrators, “It depends on if there’s total safe.” they’re alone,” Hopewell said. “And the hardest part was they didn’t commitment to it and if there are I definitely feel the effects of that really care about the victim, they resources put towards it, and also PHOTO by//NICK DEERBERG

Sally Mason’s SIX-point plan to combat sexual assault and rape on campus: DESIGN by//SHIRLEY WANG

COMPILED by//Kelsey keranen

Cracking down on offenders

Increasing support for survivors

Improving prevention

Improving communications

Funding for increased resources

Implementing a student advisory board

APRIL 2014 FEATURE 15

April 18, 2014 WSS  

The April issue of West Side Story

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