Let’s discuss sexual violence


Lady Gaga’s latest video, “Til It Happens To You,” premiered on YouTube Sept. 17 and portrays a hot topic: the subject of sexual assault at universities.

In a study conducted by the American Association of Universities, which drew responses from 150,000 students at 27 schools, the results were scary:  More than 20 percent of the respondents said they had experienced sexual assault and misconduct this year. 

And the results differed by university. Twenty-seven percent of the respondents at the Univeristy of Pennsylvania reported they had experienced attacks, while the University of Pittsburgh respondents averaged at 21 percent. 

Repeat: More than one in five suffered sexual attacks this year alone. And the fact that this one-in-five number isn’t shocking speaks volumes. 

It’s widely known that sexual assault and violence is a concern at universities across the country. Five cases of sexual assault – three at IUP’s main campus, one at the Sigma Chi house and one at its Punxsutawney campus  – occurred between Aug. 29 and Sept. 13. 

This number, while construed as being high by the local media, is just the number of attacks that have been reported. In a 2007 study by the National Institute of Justice, it was found that sexual assaults were most likely to occur during the months of September, October and November. 

If a national average of 23 percent of women were sexually attacked within the year, and most sexual attacks occur in the fall, and more than half of IUP students are female, does five sexual assaults still seem high? 

No. In fact, it doesn’t add up. Five reports is higher than normal, but it’s still most likely a lot lower than the amount of sexual attacks that actually occurred. And while more women are speaking out than in the past about sexual assault, too many are still staying silent. 

Speak up – our community will listen. The Indiana community has counseling and advocacy services available for survivors who need a safe place. IUP’s Counseling Center, located at the Center for Health and Well-Being, can be contacted at 724-357-2621. The off-campus Alice Paul House can be reached at 724-349-4444.

Communication and education regarding sexual assault and violence are key in lowering these statistics. If you experience or see something, be proactive. Using your voice may help others find theirs.