Is Millsaps Doing Enough to Prevent Sexual Assault?
by Catherine Arjet
This week, The Purple and White’s news section, published an article about Title IX enforcement on campus. I wanted to figure out if Millsaps’s Title IX efforts are working.
This year, the administration has stepped-up many it’s work on sexual assault prevention, in many regards, focusing on Greek students. For the first time, campus administration required all incoming Greek life members to watch The Hunting Ground, a 2015 documentary about sexual assault on campus, and participate in a following panel discussion. Title IX coordinator Lori Genous and Nurse Carol Lowe have also been working directly with Greek organizations to educate members about exactly what constitutes sexual assault and what to do if it happens to you or a friend.
While all of this seems to be well intentioned, I’m a little worried that it focuses too much on Greek students. Even though we do have a very large Greek presence on campus, we do have to remember that going through Greek life cuts out about half of the student body. While I understand how hard it can be to get students to come out and how much control over Greek life the administration has, we need to realize that Greek students aren’t the only students. We cannot let sexual assault happen because it was too hard to reach out to the students who would eventually become involved in it.
As a society we seem to have associated campus sexual assault with frat parties, sorority formal, and other Greek events. Part of this stems from a stereotype of Greek students as mindless partiers who look at college as a way to spend four years immersed in debauchery, which of course is not representative of all, or even most, Greek students. However, this image, coupled with the idea that sexual assault happens to young women who “party too much” and is perpetrated by lecherous and misogynistic young men — as opposed to something that can happen to, or be enacted by, anyone regardless of gender or lifestyle — has shifted the focus of sexual assault away from student bodies in general and toward Greek students. This is not something we an allow to continue if we want to protect all Millsaps students.
Like many female students, I know far too many Millsaps students who have been assaulted both on and off campus. Many of these people were not involved in Greek life, and even if they were, their attackers may not have been. While I don’t think that we can blame these assaults on the lack of non-Greek training, the fact that half of the student body does not receive a lot of these trainings is deeply troubling.
The administration is doing their legal duty to prevent sexual assault on campus, but they are failing on some fronts and we, as students, need to also take up the cause and protect our friends and classmates. This can mean anything from joining the SMEC, to making sure those around you are safe and intervening if you feel they are not, to calling out your friends when they make comments that contribute to rape culture. Campus sexual assault is one of the biggest issues facing us as students and as a community and it’s up to each and every one of us to make sure we’re doing all we can to keep our campus safe.