Students at Kennesaw State University seemed to have a hard time believing President Barack Obama’s assertion that more than one in five women on American campuses have been sexually attacked.
“It seems like a high number,” said a young woman who identified herself as an undeclared 18-year old freshman. “But I wonder what defines a sexual assault.”
“It does surprise me,” said a 21-year old female sophomore majoring in Social Sciences. “I guess stuff happens.”
And if that seems a little indifferent to the issue of sexual assault on campus, consider the way a young man majoring in finance viewed the president’s concern: “It demonizes men and victimizes women,” said the 19-year old.
Another young man, a 29-year old accounting major, said to lower the number of sexual assaults on campus, as the president hopes to do by appointing a task force to act on the issue, much of campus culture will have to change.
“Say your friend is hassling a girl,” he posited. “You should be able to speak up and say, ‘Hey, what you’re doing isn’t appropriate. You need to tone it down and step back.’”
That is exactly the aim of a program just being adopted at KSU called “Green Dot.” The idea is to make bystanders feel empowered to intervene.
“If they hear a rape joke, instead of laughing and then feeling uncomfortable, speaking up and saying, ‘That’s not acceptable,’” said Associate Professor of Psychology Corrine McNamara, who has studied in depth the issues surrounding interpersonal violence on the KSU campus. Green Dot, an expensive program to adopt, will be rolled out soon at the university in Kennesaw, she said.