Obama to work against sexual assault

Amanda Hoskins

Talk of rape and sexual assault upon women attending colleges and universities has sparked after President Obama signed a presidential memorandum creating the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault on Jan. 22.

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President Obama announced he and his administration will work with colleges and universities to come up with better ways to prevent and respond to sexual assault.

“Our schools need to be places where our young people feel secure and confident,” Obama said.

It is estimated that one in five women on college campuses have been sexually assaulted during their time there, according to the president. This means, statistically speaking, 20 percent of the female population at Quinnipiac will experience sexual assault.

The president feels we as a society must stop blaming victims for these crimes, and that men must start to stand up and take more responsibility.

“The measure of manhood is willingness to speak up and speak out, and begin to change the culture,” Obama said.

Hillary Haldane, assistant professor of anthropology and expert on violence against women, supports Obama with his decision and is especially supportive of the administration bringing men into the conversation of sexual assault.

“You are not going to end violence against women largely perpetrated by men if you do not figure out what is going on with men,” Haldane said. “I think that is important because it is a more holistic approach than we have seen from prior administrative kind of efforts in this area.”

Haldane said there is too much of a double standard in sexuality and feels it is not the individuals who should be blamed, but the culture of our society.

Haldane believes the culture of college students have not grown up with healthy representations of appropriate sexual relationships.

“That 20 percent [of women sexually assaulted in college] is embedded in a culture that does not have equitable ideas about men and women with sexuality and sexual agency,” Haldane said.

As a university, Haldane feels the administration has taken a very good response to sexual assault and can take a structural response to sexual assault on campus.

“I feel that Quinnipiac is trying to get it out in the open,” Haldane said. “I feel that in some ways, Title IX has been good in getting us [the university] to think about our responses to sexual assault.”

Haldane believes the university can additionally help students by incorporating readings into the QU seminar classes that deal with sexual violence and the language of rape. Haldane believes students refer to words such as “rape” in very loose terms, while the administration shies away from using the terms.

Some students believe people don’t take sexual assault seriously.

“I just feel like people don’t realize the limits to certain things,” freshman Nicole Bonomo said. “If you make people more aware of the situation, they’ll realize that what they’re doing is wrong, rather than like joking around with a friend, but I just think it is better if you talk about it more.”

Freshman Emily Bodinger agrees with providing education about the subjects will be beneficial to students.

“I think education is always good in terms of prevention,” Bodinger said. “I feel like I know so many girls who have been sexually assaulted.”