Letters to the Editor

Make a misstep into an opportunity

Plenty of people are writing in to tell you how offended they are by the “Slice of Life” column in the Life section titled “Got Drunk? Who’s to Blame” (Sept. 22, p. 6)? They should be. I am also deeply offended by the author’s insinuation that sexual assault or rape is the fault of the victim if the victim had been drinking. This is an opportunity to start a discussion at GW about sexual assault and rape on college campuses.

According to Robin Warshaw’s “I Never Called in Rape,” one in four women surveyed on college campuses were victims of rape or attempted rape, and 42 percent of women said they expected to be raped again. At the same time, only 27 percent of women whose sexual assault met the legal definition of rape (sexual penetration without consent where there is coercion or force) defined it as such.

So what can The Hatchet do? As the campus’ primary newspaper that most students pick up at least for the crossword and Sudoku, The Hatchet is in a unique position to start this discussion. Include an editorial or column from UPD’s sexual assault counselor. Write an article featuring the many amazing students who volunteer for organizations such as the D.C. Rape Crisis Center or Men Can Stop Rape. Inform students of resources for victims of sexual assault and rape in GW’s area.

The GW Hatchet messed up when it published this insensitive, offensive column. However, this is an opportunity for the paper to lead us in a discussion about the realities of sexual assault on our campus and what we can do as potential victims, perpetrators or friends. I call on you to take up this opportunity.

Abbey Marr, Senior

Accusations of insensitivity miss the point

While I agree with that rape is a touchy issue (“Letter to the Editor: Slice of ignorance” Sept. 25, p. 4), I feel that many are overlooking the major point of Clayton McCleskey’s column on binge drinking on GW’s campus (“Got drunk? Who’s to blame?” Sept. 22, p. 6).

Living in Thurston, I have seen enough EMeRGs and drunken stupors to be fully aware of what we are dealing with. As McCleskey mentioned in his piece, we do have a serious drinking problem.

Some might say that because I am a male student I am biased, but I have met both alcoholics as well as victims of rape. While I might sympathize with one more than the other, there is still the question of what role the victims played. Did the 30-year-old man, now a father of three and my brother-in-law, have a choice when he picked up that bottle and became an alcoholic? Did the female student make the choice of attending the party despite the obvious potential risk? I sympathize with her for what might have happened, but she took this risk.

A part of being an adult is learning to make your own decisions and assessing the risks of a situation. To claim that the mention of rape in an article about alcohol is insensitive is to miss the McCleskey’s point in general.

I would like to add that one should never approach a girl with the interest of getting in her pants if she has had too much to drink. In my book, that is considered rape.

However, it is the responsibility of those who attend parties to take safety measures. If you know there is a risk of being slipped date-rape drugs, then don’t drink. If you know you have an addictive personality, don’t feed it with booze. We are young adults in college and it’s high time to start acting like it.

Bradley King, Freshman

Got raped? Who’s to blame?

I’d like to congratulate Hatchet columnist Clayton McCleskey for being the newest member of an ancient club. The tradition of blaming women for being the victims of sexual assault is as old as sexual assault itself.

McCleskey’s column (“Got drunk? Who’s to blame?” Sept. 22, p. 6) was troubling to me on a number of levels, but mainly because he draws a line between the report of a sexual assault, in which the victim was potentially drugged, and the victim’s personal responsibility.

College-aged women are more likely than any other group to be victims of rape. According to a report published in 2000 by the National Institute of Justice, 20 to 25 percent of women will be raped during their college career. And by rape, they mean “unwanted completed penetration by force or threat of force.” That doesn’t sound like a party to me.

I completely agree with McCleskey that we all need to take responsibility for ourselves, drunk or sober. Unfortunately, he puts the responsibility on victims of sexual assault rather than the perpetrators. When we go out and get drunk, it is not the women who need to take responsibility for making sure that men do not assault us (although, ladies, let’s be safe here); it is the men who must take responsibility for their intoxicated actions.

Recent crime alerts should be a wake-up call for us all to re-examine our campus culture. At what point did it become acceptable to blame women for being assaulted? At what point did it become reasonable to suggest that intoxication is a legitimate excuse to assault?

When I head out for a night of binge drinking, I accept responsibility for a hangover the next morning and potentially humiliating photos posted to Facebook. Sexual assault is not on that list.

The people who truly need to be sure they understand the responsibility they have for their actions are the men who believe that it’s acceptable to rape, as long as they are allowed to blame it on alcohol the next morning.

Hannah Katch, Senior

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