The opening weeks of this semester have been unprecedented, not necessarily because of the volume of sexual assaults reported to police, but because of the way the campus has responded.
It’s not that there has been an increased number of sexual assaults on campus, necessarily. As we understand it, people are more comfortable reporting when other incidents occur. And that’s a positive sign.
In the nearly four years we’ve all been on campus, we can’t remember students having this sort of reaction to reports of sexual assault. We also can’t remember a time where survivors were reporting it this often.
We’re at a time when people are paying attention. We feel as though we can all make a tiny difference, whether that difference be within the bubbles of our friend groups, our campus or beyond. Something is different this time, and we shouldn’t let this issue fade into the background when people aren’t reporting, when the tweets stop or the headlines get buried.
We may be reporters, but we’re also humans. As students on campus, we feel unsafe walking home alone at night, even with keys in our hands for defense. Some of us are survivors ourselves. And we’re upset. Every police report is a punch in the stomach. Each crime alert is a reminder of a larger problem — one that’s on us to solve.
Thoughts and prayers — and tweets — are never enough. They never have been. What we need are concrete efforts by university and local leaders to address the issue of sexual assault on our campus and within our city.
We urge Ohio University and the City of Athens to bolster their resources for survivors.
As many assaults occur in residence halls, we urge that resident assistants be trained to take proactive steps to prevent sexual assault. We encourage local businesses and university organizations to participate in bystander intervention training, so as to be better prepared to respond in emergency situations.
Having resources, though, is just the beginning. Our university — whether that be the administrators, students or whomever on campus and in Athens — needs to be proactive and initiate preventive measures to stomp on this kind of culture before it even begins.
We’ve seen the F--k Rape Culture rallies, the Take Back the Night events, the calls for cultural competency courses. We’ve all been through Jenny Hall-Jones’ famous “pizza talk.” Still, very little has changed. There need to be more concrete solutions that go beyond providing resources for survivors and teaching people, specifically women, to do everything they can to not be raped or assaulted.
It’s on everyone.
We applaud the efforts of OUPD and other university entities who have been vocal about the reality that sexual assaults happen on our campus. They, too, are continuing the conversation people have started after these reports.
We know this isn’t something that’s going to go away overnight. But at the end of the day, we simply can’t ignore it any longer. We have reached the breaking point.
Editorials represent the majority opinion of The Post's executive editors: Editor-in-Chief Lauren Fisher, Managing Editor Maddie Capron, Digital Managing Editor Alex McCann, Assistant Managing Editor Jessica Hill and Creative Director Abby Gordon. Post editorials are independent of the publication's news coverage.