Column: Alcohol’s influence

The Hatchet’s May 2 editorial (“Preventing Rape”) presented some valuable information to the GW community. But The Hatchet’s criticism is misdirected, it buried and doubted the most important data regarding sexual assaults at GW: the involvement of alcohol.

Alcohol use and abuse is the one common denominator in every case of sexual assault at GW this academic year. To educate otherwise is “stifling sexual assault education at GW.”

Responsible use of alcohol is a challenge facing all college students. But alcohol abuse does not mitigate students’ bad decisions. The intoxication is voluntary and so are the behaviors that follow. Students must be held accountable for those behaviors.

Of those sexual assaults reported to University officials, all of the assailants were known to the sexual assault survivor. Thus the likely scenario for a sexual assault at GW runs something like this:

Students consume alcohol. Perhaps they drink too much and go beyond their normal limits. Two people find themselves in situations where the lines between appropriate and inappropriate behavior seem blurred. Someone chooses to act on an impulse, and the other is sexually assaulted.

The single greatest risk factor for sexual assaults at GW is alcohol consumption. Remove alcohol from the equation and the likelihood of a sexual assault occurring is reduced significantly. The exact circumstances of each incident are irrelevant. Would knowing those details truly provide the education students need? No. The University Police Department does enough by posting crime alerts on campus.

Increased reports of sexual assault show the GW community is paying attention to an important issue. The University welcomes the opportunity to work with students to educate their peers about the dangerous convergence of alcohol and sexual assault. Hopefully, in this new climate of awareness, student leaders will take the lead in launching an initiative aimed at reducing the rate of sexual assaults at GW.

-The writer is director of the Center for Alcohol and other Drug Education. Tara Woolfson and
J. Andrew Holland contributed
to this article.

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