I’m sure if you’ve been on Drake University’s campus for even a short amount of time, you’ve seen chalked messages on the sidewalks. Some students think it’s informative, some annoying, but no matter what, you have to admit that it’s effective. How could you see bright green chalk on the sidewalk and not at least glance and see what it has to say?
Last week was Sexual Assault Awareness Week, and as part of the program, Student Activists for Gender Equality chalked statistics around campus. Interestingly enough, I’ve heard more complaints about the chalkings themselves than about sexual assault.
In my time at Drake, I’ve gotten more and more involved and passionate about preventing sexual assault and informing people about the dangers of sexual assault on campus. I’m sorry if rape statistics chalked on the ground make you feel uncomfortable. I understand that feeling like this represents Drake (and you) in a poor light makes you mad.
You know what makes me mad? Sexual assault.
It makes me mad that my friends, family, people I love are assaulted in the most personal, violating and heartbreaking way. It makes me mad that I feel powerless to stop it. It makes me mad that you think these statistics about rape aren’t relevant to you and the people in your life. If you think that the statistics of rape chalked on the ground are startling, unpleasant or inappropriate, take a number. I assure you, they feel worse when you realize how much they apply to people you love.
It’s true that, to quote the chalkings, “One in four college women will be sexually assaulted” and “every two minutes, a sexual assault happens in the U.S.” So why are we pretending it’s not? We’re worried about what potential students may think of these statistics, but why are we less worried about preventing it from actually happening? The fact that people think we should sweep it under the rug to get prospective students to come here is completely ridiculous. Drake does not exist simply for potential students and if that’s all we care about, we don’t deserve to be a university.
Last Monday morning, we saw a facilities worker intentionally wash off some of the statistics. That afternoon I saw Facebook statuses pop up making light of the hell rape survivors go through. In a routine TD staff story budget, here’s part of an editorial prompt: “With tours being held around campus this time of year, (the sexual assault statistics are) insanely inappropriate . . . and does not leave a good impression. We want people to come to Drake, not remember us as the school with the scary statistics on the sidewalk. I’m not saying the facts aren’t true but maybe save those statistics for a Facebook page and not underneath touring families’ feet.”
I’ve heard plenty of comments about how this whole thing makes Drake look bad. Actually, I agree. When we have staff members, students and even the Drake Problems Twitter account making light of a horrible crime, we do, in fact, it looks like an awful place to go to college. The retweet from DrakeProblem says “All this sexual assault stuff on campus reminds me of how the packers got raped last night by the refs #DrakeProblems RT @jagow75.” Get it? It’s funny because rape is funny. Thank you for demonstrating why Sexual Assault Awareness Week is needed on campus.
The reason we make our voices so loud is because otherwise, rape survivors will drown in the silence. You don’t like having a constant reminder about sexual assault as you walk around campus? Neither do we. We’ll stop chalking when rape stops happening.
And for what it’s worth, as a prospective student, I would be happy to see that the campus is teaching their students about sexual assault and how common it really is. I would have wanted to go to a school where the community supports each other and stands up against injustice. In the past two days, I have learned that a large chunk of the people at Drake care for neither of the above.
Instead of complaining about chalk, maybe we should fix that first.
Published by Times-Delphic