Sexual assault should vanish

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Sexual assault should vanish

Bethany Bekas-Yarker Opinions Editor

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Jeanne Clery was a 19 year-old incoming freshman at Lehigh University when she was raped and murdered in her residence hall. Four years later, the Clery Act was signed into law, and it is because of this law students on this campus were promptly alerted on the vicious sexual assault that took place in front of Sherman Hall this weekend. 

The Clery Act requires, among other things, that universities report on campus crimes like sexual assault in the hope that knowledge of the attacks will arm potential victims with knowledge.

It is with this sentiment in mind that the University released a statement containing tips on how to avoid sexual assault and compromising situations; however, the truth is, unless attitudes change toward women and sexual assault, there will continue to be vicious attacks everyday in this country.

In speaking with several University representatives yesterday, it became clear that the University is truly doing what they can to assure the safety of their students, from offering the OPS escort service to openly sharing the information they had concerning the attack with an anxious press.

Originally, I was taken aback by the University’s first release on Sunday morning’s events: 

“OPS would like to remind students living in campus apartments, residence halls and off-campus houses and apartments to make sure they take necessary precautions when walking on or off campus. Walk in groups whenever possible. Be aware of your surroundings. Travel in populated, well-lit areas; Use Go West, the University’s transit system, or the OPS escort service; Trust your instincts and use good judgment; Use common sense; Avoid being alone or with someone you do not know; Communicate to others where you are going and with whom.”

“Necessary measures?,” I thought. At first, like a few others I spoke with, felt anger towards the University for not doing more to prevent such an egregious attack. But then I realized, was there anything else they could have done?

Although it did not say so explicitly in the release, I could not help but to feel the University’s warnings were particularly directed at women. As a woman, it is common knowledge that these attacks take place all over the country, but it sent a chill up my spine when I had to face the fact that one happened within miles of where I sleep at night.

OPS, along with local police, patrol highly populated areas, which are already covered in blue call lights. It is not physically possible for the police or the University’s security team to protect every individual every day all over campus. In some cases, we have to put faith in our fellow students, citizens and far too often friends to be respectful descent human beings who would never dream of harming another person in a way that is emotionally and physically devastating. ‘

This country is far too adavance for sexual crimes to remain to be commonplace. The perpetrators of sexual attacks need to be brought to the highest form of justice and punished in the cruelest way the law of this land allows. There is no greater crime than to rob another of their sense of safety, worth and privacy. Although it may not happen over night, I would hope by the day this generation begins to send its daughters to college, sexual attack is an anomaly, not a regularity. 

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