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Friday, August 19, 2022


Sexual assault: Focus more on prevention, not reaction


Justin Tijerina/The Cougar

UH offers many programs to help prevent crimes as well as educate students about what they need to do to protect themselves from being assaulted while on campus. With the amount of programs they offer, it’s a mystery as to why the amount of on-campus assaults went up in the year 2013.

According to the 2013 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, the amount of forcible sex offenses increased from two in 2012 to 11 in 2013, causing one to wonder what UH is doing wrong.

Before incoming students start their first day at school, they attend orientation, and in one session they get lectured about consent and what it means, part of a campaign on campus known as “Coogs Get Consent.”

The “Coogs Get Consent” website defines consent as “agreeing to an action based on your knowledge of what that action involves, the consequences of that action and having the option of saying no. In a sexual situation, consent works the same way — before engaging in a specific sexual activity, an agreement must be made between the partners.”

“I feel a lot of people have had very good feedback about (the consent lecture at orientation), but it concentrated solely on alcohol-related sexual assault,” said physics freshman Richard Kemp. “The way (the lecture leads) treated consent, it was very watered-down, and I feel like they could address it a lot better.”

The University’s Police Department of Public Safety website lists preventative measures students can take to protect themselves from sexual assault which include being aware of surroundings, communicating with sexual partners and trusting one’s instincts.

UHDPS offers advice about self protection, which include verbal resistance and physical resistance. These forms of resistance advise students on whether the situation may call for screaming, talking calmly or using your body or other available weapons to protect oneself from the attack.

Additionally, UHDPS offers a Rape Aggression Defense Program. In this program, students are taught to “combat various types of assaults by providing them with realistic self-defense tactics and techniques.”

Many universities throughout Texas offer the same services to students, but other major universities had different statistics in 2013 than what UH had. Between UH, Texas A&M University, University of North Texas, University of Texas and Texas State University, UH had the second highest number of forced sexual assaults last year; Texas State had the highest.

2013 Student Population 4x3 (101314)g

Infographic by A. Tomic

The population of the compared universities may have an impact, as UH has about 40,000 students. While 11 sexual assaults may seem like a small number, UH only has the third-highest student population between the five schools.

But one sexual assault is one too many. School should a place where students can go to feel safe and prepare for their future.

No man or woman here should have to feel afraid of being assaulted. A&M has the highest student population, yet has less forcible sexual offenses than UH.

The issue here is while UH offers all of these great programs, they don’t seem to be advertised well. It’s much easier for students to know how to report an assault as well as going to the Counseling and Psychological Services.

It’s scary to think that assault is even a possibility, but the University should not focus just on how to help students after they have already been attacked. UH is not the only Texas school that could use a bolstering of sexual assault awareness.

2013 Campus Sexual Assaults 4x3 (101314)h

Infographic by A. Tomic

A&M does have a brochure to educate students on the subject, but the brochure also equally emphasizes stalking and domestic violence. While all three topics are important, they should be treated and advertised separately.

On the other hand, UNT offered events and services throughout the entire year to students in 2013, and it had the lowest number of sexual assaults last year — most likely due to the school’s constant involvement in preventing sexual assault.

UNT has flyers educating students about sexual assault that defines sexual assault, presents statistics and breaks myths.

UNT’s Dean of Students website shows 13 different posters that give not only brief but comprehensible “no means no” mantras and “it’s my decision.” There should be multiple fliers throughout the UH campus similar to the ones at UNT.

While the “Consent is Sexy Campaign” can be found advertised on UH’s campus, its presence is scarce. UH should look to the way other universities advertise different sexual assault programs.

Sexual assault should not be a topic of discussion every now and then. Sexual assault should be a topic that is forced to be discussed because it is covering doors, walls, windows and bulletin boards and is unable to be ignored.

Contributing writer Alexandria Szoeke is a broadcast journalism junior and may be reached at [email protected] 

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