Sexual assault is not something to be taken lightly.
It is unfortunately an issue that is increasingly prevalent among colleges and universities across the nation, and Auburn is no exception.
Over the past few years, this University has seen an uptick in reported sexual crimes, consistently experiencing double- digit occurrences of reported sexual assaults.
Perhaps even more sad and striking is the fact that many of these assaults are preventable.
I don’t think Auburn University is an inherently dangerous place, or that our administration is not doing everything in its power to combat this matter, because it certainly is.
But I think that we, the campus community, aren’t doing enough.
I do believe that sexual assault suffers from a stigma.
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A stigma that propagates a culture of discomfort for many people.
The plain truth is that it’s an issue that people don’t want to talk about.
The sad fact is, though, we can’t just continue to ignore this matter or address it the way we have been.
People too often make assumptions about reported sexual assaults.
This “he said, she said” mentality that can many times lead to placing blame upon the victim (or survivor).
That’s not the way we should be approaching this problem.
Tackling this issue starts with stopping the root of the evil, the assaults themselves, which are so often carried about by serial offenders who make a conscious decision to commit this heinous crime.
No individual on this campus should have to worry about walking home alone, or be concerned with keeping their drink safe at a party, or be scared of being taken advantage of by an acquaintance, who many times are far more likely to be an assailant.
The heartbreaking truth is that many times we, bystanders to these crimes, can stop them, we can make a difference, we can change someone’s life.
Anyone can stop a sexual assault, there is no specialized skill set or amount of knowledge required.
It’s as simple as this: if you see something suspicious, say or do something.
I write to you today on the cusp of the launch of the Green Dot intervention program here at Auburn.
A program designed to educate precisely on this matter.
A program that has the ability to make a revolutionary difference at Auburn.
To curtail violence before it happens through the teaching of prevention tactics and what you can do stop sexual assault.
I strongly encourage anyone interested to get involved with the Green Dot.
Again, though, it all falls to us, the Auburn Family, to step to the plate rather than stand idly by and help our family in these dangerous instances.
It’s time we say, “enough is enough,” and truly display that “Spirit that is not afraid” that we so often tout but don’t always exhibit.
So, I challenge you today to stand up to sexual assault and help move Auburn in the right direction.
Let’s change the culture and mindset and mark a turn toward a brighter future and a safer tomorrow on The Plains.
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