A lot can happen in a year. Last year around this time I was going through college orientation—sitting through seminar after seminar held by adults trying to give me the information needed to navigate a whole new environment. Aside from the crushing awkwardness thousands of freshmen can produce in a single space, orientation felt more like a bullpen as we all were anxiously kicking to be let out of the gates and go experience the newness in front of us.
In the stressed seminars pertaining safety, words and phrases like “travel in groups,” “watch your drink,” “remember the blue light system,” were repeated constantly by adults as well as student ‘actors’ performing Oscar worthy renditions of party scenes.
However none of these issues were of immediate concern to me. I figured most of the advice they gave me was common knowledge and I was mature enough to handle any situation.
Yet the one pressing issue I didn’t understand was that the next six weeks of my life were going to put me in danger. Referred to as the “red zone,” education experts say that these six weeks are when students are most apt to experience alcohol and sexual abuses whether personally or as a witness. Reading this statement a year ago would have mindlessly washed over me like any of the seminar points I mention before. I had taken AlcoholEdu and gone to the seminars what more could I possibly do?
The answer is nothing. I just had to go see for myself.
My point is not to say that you’re going to be in extreme danger BEWARE! My point—that I hope my peers can understand—is let’s acknowledge where we are and what we are doing.
My first six weeks of college were indeed difficult and led me into a monster of year where I learned a lot about myself. My life didn’t suddenly turn into a drama where I was wailing and flailing all over the place. But there were hardships I endured that dissatisfyingly matched up with the seminars I once sat through. They didn’t tell me during orientation that they were telling the truth.
Being fresh off my freshman year, I hope those beginning college in a couple weeks can take my word. The seminars and lectures your school provides for you on safety issues like sexual assault aren’t because it’s mandatory, it’s because it happens. And it’s happening now to a point of recent government intervention.
President Obama addressed the nation with the statistic one in five women are sexually assaulted in college. While having our president acknowledge this is immensely powerful, what’s more so is that we (the people living it) acknowledge it too.
Young adults such as myself are famously known for being the ones to protest issues. With our hungry hearts and gusto we are very capable of throwing ourselves into any fight. While it’s admirable to protest issues like marriage equality, healthcare reform and even foreign wars, why don’t we protest the epidemic we started?
One in five means something to me, does it mean something to you?