Two of the stories in this issue of Texan News deal with a very sensitive topic. Although it’s not an easy subject to write or talk about, it’s an important one and we want to contribute to the discussion.
First, we would like to say that we couldn’t know what survivors of sexual assault are going through. We can’t say we’ve been there and may not be able to speak to your personal experience. What we can say, though, is that you are important and that though what you’ve been through is a tragedy beyond expression, it does not define you.
We at Texan News work from the conviction that our duty as journalists is to seek the truth and report it. They felt that something needed to change and the only way it was going to change was if they shed light on it.
In this issue, you will find the personal story of a former Tarleton student who was assaulted by another student. That survivor told us she felt like the university didn’t care about what happened to her. Part of the reason that she left was that she didn’t get the support she needed. Her mission now is to help others who have experienced similar tragedies.
That’s why we are writing.
We believe the issue of sexual assault on campus is three old—education, responsibility and consequences.
Education – The student who shared her story with us explained that she wanted improve education for students about sexual assault, what it is and self-protection. We believe she has a valid point. Freshmen traditionally go through training for alcohol awareness —why not sexual assault? Though there is a session on the subject at Duck Camp, not all freshmen go to Duck Camp.
When students enter their college career, they are going to be placed in situations that they don’t know how to handle. By educating students on this issue as soon as they get to Tarleton, we are keeping students safer for their time here.
If we are truly to focus on being the “the premier student-focused university in Texas and beyond” as it says in the vision of Tarleton’s 2015-2020 Strategic Plan, this cannot be an issue that is overlooked when it comes to being properly educated.
Responsibility – If someone on campus goes through this, it is our job to make sure that person gets on the road to recovery, both physical and emotional.
Secondly, the blame needs to go where the blame is due, and a person who has been sexually assaulted is not the correct recipient. The fact is that it doesn’t matter how someone was dressed or what his or her behavior may imply. They need help now and ostracizing them is not going to help solve the issue.
Is Stephenville complying with the rape kit law? Let’s make sure we are prepared to administer proper aid when someone is in need.
Telling someone what you’ve been through won’t change what happened, but it will change what happens in the future. You will get help, people will become aware, and your violator should be held accountable. The chances of that violator hurting someone else will decrease. Though the victim is not responsible for what transpired, he or she can choose to fight and protect someone else in the future by reporting it.
Consequences – It is also our job to see that violators are prosecuted properly. A perpetrator getting a slap on the wrist for violating another person equals a slap across the survivor’s face.
As best as we can tell, no one in Tarleton history has ever gone to prison for sexually assaulting another person on campus. Instead, violators are given probation or disciplinary action.
This is an issue that cannot be swept under the rug any longer. We are asking you, Tarleton State, to take action. Educate yourselves. Stand up for those who have been assaulted and call out those who refuse to stand with you. Keep accountable those who cross the line.