About EI Discussions- a weekly series

What is EI Discussions?

Last month the Institute hosted a campus-wide debate between the various political groups at Gettysburg College. In order to continue the discussion we have developed a weekly series called EI Discussions which will be posted here every Wednesday. EI Discussions encourages constructive dialogue between people across the political spectrum on a number of issues facing our country. All politically inclined groups at Gettysburg College are welcome to contribute to the discussion. 

Question of the Week:

With resurfacing allegations of sexual assault committed by Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, the Gettysburg College’s Students Against Sexual Assault’s “14 Days Against Sexual Assault” campaign reaffirms that this issue is pervasive in all levels of society. What role should the federal and state governments play in preventing sexual assault on college campuses? What policies would be most effective on Gettysburg’s campus?

Rebecca King ’19 – Gettysburg Anti-Capitalist Collective

We feel that students have a right to more information about sexual assault on campus, including the name of perpetrators and exact location of the assault. The vast majority of sexual assaults are perpetrated by students known to the survivor. As we are a small campus, many students know one another, making the probability of an encounter with a potential assailant alarmingly high. Students have a right to know what locations prove to be high-risk for sexual assault in order to protect ourselves. We condemn objectification, which allows for the perpetrator to feel justified in using another human being as a tool for sexual gratification, rather than considering the needs of the other party. It is our opinion that fraternities are problematic in that they create environments in which men use women as currency to enter. We believe fraternity brothers reinforce the “ratio” of attendees to increase the chances of a sexual encounter in an environment where we believe most attendees consume alcohol. It is our opinion that this increases the likelihood of a sexual encounter under the influence of alcohol, which make fraternity environments prone to sexual assault, as when either party is too intoxicated to give consent, sexual acts, by nature, become sexual assault. Any sexual act is not consensual when a party involved cannot clearly, enthusiastically demonstrate that they wish to engage in whatever sex act a party has proposed, someone involved is under duress, or a party is incapacitated.

Luke Frigon ’18 – Gettysburg College Democrats

Sexual assault is perhaps the biggest and most intimidating issue facing America’s colleges and universities today. While colleges (including our own) have taken steps to reduce the amount of sexual assaults on campus, it’s not enough. It’s time for Federal and State governments to step in and take charge, and there are easy ways to do it. First of all, politicians need to start respecting women’s’ rights to their own bodies. If a woman is going to be told what she can and can’t do with her own body, why should she trust the government to protect that body from sexual assault? The government needs to fully fund and support Planned Parenthood. They need to support women (and men) wherever possible, and it starts with giving people access to healthcare and screenings for things like testicular and breast cancer.

Sexual assault, however, is not a men’s issue or a women’s issue. It is a Human issue. There needs to be a cultural change on college campuses where men and women are equally and highly valued. There needs to be mandated sexual assault prevention and awareness training, not just for fraternities and sororities, but ALL students. Through federal programs like RealConsent, Safe Dates, and Shifting Boundaries, we have seen somewhat effective means to prevent sexual assaults, but it’s not enough. As much as it is on the shoulders of government to stop this, it is on us as students as well. We need to not be bystanders. As much as it is a federal and state issue, sexual assault prevention is OUR issue. It is affecting US, and it must not go on any longer.

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Alex Engelsman ’18 – Gettysburg College Independents

Those of us in College Independents are opposed to sexual violence of any kind, but that may come as no surprise. As Independents, we believe that a balance should be struck between the role of the federal and state governments in this issue. There should be national standards on college policy towards this epidemic, given sexual assault is the same in all fifty states and should not depend on where you live. But at the same time there is precedent that states are the primary creators of college policy, especially given their closer relationship with the private institutions, and administration of the public schools. The federal government should produce national standards of policy that all states must follow, but the policies and administration of those policies should be left to the states.

We believe that on Gettysburg’s campus, as well as many others, how the campus handles sexual assault should be led by the faculty for fear of bias from another group. While the administration may seek to underplay or cover up and serious allegations to not risk a scandal, it could be potentially dangerous to have students be the arbiter of such serious cases, given the polarization and stigmas present in the student community. We believe that the faculty, being closely connected with both groups, can be a successful arbiter in cases, being sure to be neutral to all other factors outside the case itself.

Scott Moore ’19 – Young Americans for Freedom

Every decent person on campus at Gettysburg College would agree that we must combat sexual assault. So why, then, does the administration of the College so strongly oppose effective action? Anyone who claims that an awareness campaign or a public lecture will stop a single assault is utterly delusional. What should the College do to curb sexual assaults on campus then? Nothing. The principles that Young Americans for Freedom advocates on a national scale are the rights of the individual. These same rights are what we believe will combat sexual assaults on campus. Certainly the school is well within its rights to prohibit firearms on campus, no one would argue for the safety of letting a drunken student carry a gun. But what about other methods of self-defense? College policy prohibits any weapon or device capable of injuring or incapacitating a person, this prevents victims from fighting back in situations where contacting Public Safety is impossible. Allowing students to possess tasers, knives, or pepper spray would at least make fighting back a possibility while minimizing harm to others whereas current policy would merely create helpless victims. Permitting the injury or incapacitation of attackers would be a real solution to preventing real sexual assault; a crime which all too often has its definition diluted by false accusations. It is our opinion that regret does not equate to rape and to claim that it does trivialize the suffering of actual victims, victims who might not exist if we allowed them to defend themselves.

Christopher Condon ’19 – Young Americans for Liberty

We, as the Young Americans for Liberty, are first and foremost expressing our belief that sexual assault is a prevalent and important issue on college campuses across America, including at our very own Gettysburg College. Although we are typically a voice of lessening government influence in all areas, this scourge is one that must be confronted by the law and nothing less. Rape and sexual assault are rightfully classified as violent crimes, and therefore should be punished to the fullest extent with due process by the college, local, and state governments. We are a nation of laws and we must ensure that laws such as these are followed and enforced fully to express our absolute contempt for such behavior as a society.

In a larger sense, however, the law can only do so much. Although the law is an important facet of lessening this behavior, it is up to us as a society and as individuals to eliminate the misogyny that is so often involved in every aspect of sexual assault, from peer pressure to bystanders feeling as if they cannot speak up about what they see. As firm believers in the power of the individual, the more people who speak up about these crimes and band together in the defense of decency, the closer we will get to a society where sexual assault is exceedingly rare. What each student and the administration of Gettysburg College can do to protect those that are vulnerable to this behavior, male and female, is to continue to speak up and educate each other about this pressing issue.

The views and opinions expressed are the students and the organizations whom they represent and do not necessarily represent the views of The Eisenhower Institute or Gettysburg College.