Calling all bystanders

I would never say that any person should not be accountable for their actions; if a male or female does a harmful act to another, he or she should be punished. However, when violent situations occur, the accusations and punishment are sometimes pushed on the victim as well. I believe that if a bystander sees anything suspicious, inappropriate, or just has a feeling that something is wrong and steps in, these crimes could be minimized.

In light of everything that has been going on throughout Baylor’s campus, I feel like I need to take a stand and say enough is enough. As a female who supports women’s rights and who finds violent crimes against women appalling, I believe it is up to both males and females to educate others on how to react in sticky situations and be accountable to our friends if they are in one. If we hold ourselves to a higher standard, we can possibly help prevent a fun night from turning ugly.

According to an article written by Robin Hattersley Gray for Campus Safety in 2012, statistics showed that 43 percent of sexual assaults reported by college women involved the consumption of alcohol. This number is staggering, but it should open females’ eyes to the issues that can come with alcohol consumption.

As a female, I know that if I put myself in certain environments, something I am not looking for can take place. I’m not saying it’s bad to go out and have a good time, but I believe it’s up to us to make sure we are surrounded by the right people, people we can trust to look out for us. It is important to have friends to make sure that all are accounted for and that everyone gets home safely at the end of the night.

Far too often, we hear of stories about a female being assaulted after spending a night in a bar with friends because she had one too many drinks. This is where many may ask, “Where were her friends? Did she not have anyone there with her to make sure she got home safely?” Males and females are equally susceptible to something happening to them after a night out drinking, or honestly anywhere. Groups need to make prior arrangements on how they will be getting home at the end of the night in order to ensure everyone’s safety.

The aggressor is not innocent in these situations. However, I do believe that it’s up to every individual to make good personal decisions and realize the consequences of being in a place where something could possibly happen. While we can pray that the guilty will be put behind bars, that is not always the case.

For example, Brock Turner, the former Stanford swimmer who was convicted of rape and sentenced to a laughable six months in prison, was released three months into his sentence on good behavior. This case sends the disturbing message to males that rape is OK and the punishment won’t be detrimental to their growth and development, and it should also bring to the forefront the necessity for women and men to be on the lookout for each other.

Sometimes the victim can receive backlash when a crime occurs, but he or she is not the one to blame. The rapist is the one at fault, but the people who were present that night should also have opened their eyes and spoken up.

At the end of the day, we need to all be accountable to each other, men and women alike, and not only as a community at Baylor, but also as people working together for the greater good. Together, we can make a big impact and save others from having to go through hardships that could be prevented.

Meghan Mitchell is a senior journalism major from Snellville, Ga.