It’s no secret that sexual assaults are on the rise. Turning on the local news is enough to prove it. According to the U.S Department of Education, the increase of sexual assaults is present on college campuses as well. A study done by the department showed the number of reported forcible sex crimes on campus reported increased by 52 percent, from 2,200 in 2001 to 3,300 in 2011.
With this in mind, Baylor launched a campaign today to raise awareness to these crimes and combat them. Bear Up Now: Courage takes Action will have classes today and Wednesday for freshmen. The women will met at 8:30 p.m. today at Waco Hall, men will meet at the same time Wednesday.
The opportunity to further educate first year students on the horrific, yet frequent crimes associated with sexual assault is not only a good idea, it is vital education.
Often when first leaving the house, young adults are trained to look out for certain stereotypes such as “stranger danger,” associated with sexual violence. However, Baylor psychologist Dr. Cheryl Wooten said 90 percent of rapes happen between acquaintances. It is all too easy to come to college and think those stories only happen to other people.
It is also frightening how many students buy into a false sense of security within the Baylor Bubble. This is not to say the campus is dangerous by any means. Baylor is well-lit and has an ample amount of police patrolling at all times. Still, roaming around campus at 3 a.m. or running the Bear Trail after dark without a care in the world is not the best idea. Many still do, in spite of this.
Beyond simply informing students, the aim of the campaign is to empower them to get rid of sexual violence in the community. President Obama established the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault on January 22, 2014. This mandate aims to strengthen federal enforcement efforts and provide schools with tools to combat sexual assault on campuses. However, the campaign, Bear Up Now, has been in the planning stage for more than two years.
This begs the question: Is this just another “don’t drink the punch” lecture first-year students hear over and over until their eyes roll into the back of their heads? These lectures have been taking place for years, but the effectiveness is questionable. Legally mandated information session does not have the nicest ring to it, but that does play a part in Bear Up Now. It is improbable that a newly out-of-the-nest student will want to attend, much less pay attention to yet another lecture.
Bear Up Now is different. Education on the subject matter is necessary for first-year students to have a safe and successful college career. Sexual violence affects victims in all aspects of life and the prevention of such wounding should not be taken lightly.
Students should take the time to attend these sessions and take the advice the session offers.