Raising the Standard at UGA since 2013.

Fighting Sexual Assault: Let’s Unite, Not Politicize

Let’s keep campus safe.

“Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.”

–Reverend Billy Graham​

My dad taught me many lessons about life and my duties in this world that would make the omnipresent feminist delegation on campus cringe. One thing I know he taught me correctly was the immense value of the women in my life. As the #1is2many campaign against sexual violence continues on campus, I have come to realize that I, and many of those from the same background, have been looking at this situation wildly incorrectly.

I am unable to fathom committing the heinous acts of sexual violence with which the campaign is concerned, and thankfully, none of the women in my life, to my knowledge, have been the victims of such acts. Men who have remotely thought about committing these acts are not the people with whom I surround myself.

Thus, because I do what I can to protect the women in my life, and because I often feel ostracized by the typical campus voices on women’s issues as a Southerner who believes in protecting the women in my life, I have in the past paid little attention to the broader issue that #1is2many seeks to promote.

With 6 rapes reported on campus this semester, though, simply sitting on the sideline while our sisters, girlfriends, and closest friends are made victims of callous disregard and selfishness is no longer good enough. My role will not be picket signs or Twitter hashtags, but acting in small ways that are natural to me that make the campus and the lives of our sisters safer. This role has led me to sit down with some of my closest female friends and ask how they feel about safety on campus. They worry about things that I had scarcely given a second thought, yet quickly my thoughts were turned from worries to reality. The males who commit these crimes are in our classes, clubs, and social circles. Certain men continue to see their behavior as acceptable, and that is disturbing.

For significant change to take place, all men who respect women and care about their safety must step up to ensure that their male friends are on the same page. Social conservatism or Southern manners shouldn’t be factors that leave a man out of this important discussion. One man talking to his girl friends and bringing what he’s learned to his guy friends  if they also care about the women in their life will raise awareness and communicate understanding. Twitter activism is meaningless unless it brings people who once ignored an issue into contact with the reality of the problem.

It’s high time that all students, regardless of political affiliation, lend a unified voice to create a safer campus for women. No 19-year old girl should have to worry as much about being raped as she does at UGA. And no real 19-year old man should be able to sleep at night knowing that his sisters are as worried as they are.

—Tristan Bagala is a sophomore studying political science

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