The New York Times has recently printed a pair of detailed articles on an instance of campus rape, and its painful aftermath, at Hobart and William Smith College, NY.
It is our sincere hope that readers of these pieces understand that Hobart and William Smith possesses no unique culpability in this department, but that the highly sexualized atmosphere created by binge drinking on campus is pervasive throughout the country.
The following guidelines should be reviewed with pre-freshmen women, prior to even arriving on campus to move into their dorms:
1. Most women rapes on campuses are raped during the first three months there, while still new, seeing friends, and vulnerable.
2. “Pre-game” drinking— arriving at the evening’s main party event already with heavy alcohol intake from an earlier event, sets the stage for being out of control as the evening goes on.
3. Women can arrive and stay at a party in a small group, a group which has— while sober— absolutely pledged to look after each other. If a member of the group is heading for trouble, the balance of the group takes her back to the dorm. Period.
4. An anonymous call to Campus Police by an observer would seem to be the least that could be done if a student is witnessing a rape, or the prelude to a rape.
5. If the worst happens and a rape has taken place, call local police authorities. To date, colleges do not have effective systems set up to fairly assess and prosecute. The rape victim must immediately have a medical examination done, along with DNA sampling, should contact her parents who need to retain an attorney for her. All options are preserved.
6. Some victims of rape carry lifelong shame, anger and pain with them. Accessing mental health support for a period of time afterwards is a basic preventative.
Finally, a message to young women: What you are wearing telegraphs may mean one thing to you and another thing to a drunk male college student. Be smart.
Sarah C. Reese
Informed Educational Solutions