Guest Column: Communities must speak out against sexual assault

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According to a 2014 report prepared by the White House Council on Women and Girls and the Office of the Vice President, one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. Current statistics indicate approximately twice the occurrence found in the 2010 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study used in the preparation of the White House report, entitled “Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call for Action.”

This higher recorded incidence rate, whether a result of more frequent occurrence or more common reporting, is representative of a startling trend on campuses nationwide in which often serial perpetrators may take advantage of the dynamics of college life.

In the response to sexual assault, victims must know the avenues available to them for reporting and treatment. In addition to holding offenders accountable and protecting would-be victims from further occurrence, the extensive network of professionals and volunteers in the surrounding community offers round the clock access to law enforcement, medical and counseling services for victims of sexual assault, many of them confidentially.

Victims may contact law enforcement personnel with the K-State Police any time. Both Lafene Health Center and Via Christi Hospital offer medical services with confidential reporting. Additionally, the campus Center for Advocacy, Response and Education offers confidential reporting options 24 hours a day and provides a safe space for any member of the K-State community who has been affected by dating, domestic and sexual violence, stalking or sexual harassment.

While renewed emphasis on response leads to better care and support for the victims of sexual assault, the most constructive action that can be taken comes in the form of prevention by changing our culture and informing the men and women of our community. CARE is located at 206 Holton Hall close to the Anderson Avenue end of Mid-Campus Drive and can be reached by phone at 785-532-6444. The center offers a wide array of information and resources for reporting, education, and awareness as well as training opportunities for those members of our community interested in reaching out to help prevent sexual assault and harassment.

Sexual assault is criminal, and while it is a very private matter for victims whose right to confidentiality is paramount, the intense and often lifelong damage caused by sexual assault warrants action by all who may prevent it. It is not a thing to be overlooked until the relevance is discovered firsthand. There can be no bystanders; we must all find the courage and conviction to engage in the lengthy process of reaching out and changing the culture of the community around us and, at the very least, to intervene.

Kevin L. Rutherford

Sergeant First Class, U.S. Army
Military Science Instructor
Kansas State University Army ROTC

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