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Reader: Work for a world in which no people become victims

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The third week of my freshman year of college I was sexually assaulted — at a party, by someone I'd met before whose beer I was playfully sipping. Prior to my arrival at the hallowed halls of higher education, my institution made sure I and my fellow freshmen were educated on the topic of sexual assault — presentations, webinars, mandatory online training — the exciting and creative ways the administration urged us not to rape each other ran the gamut. It still happened.

It still happened despite the posters hanging in every bathroom reminding us of what it means to consent. It still happened even though it's 2017, and I'm a feminist, and I wasn't wearing anything "provocative." It still happened even though I said no.

And the worst part? The worst part is that it's still happening — to people on campuses across the nation, to that girl in your calc class, to your friends, family — sexual assault is still happening.

There is a fissure between student needs and administrative policies, one that makes sure that victims are supported, but doesn't address the fact that there are still victims. Students Fight Back (studentsfightback.org), an offshoot of Families Fight Back, is attempting to patch this hole by encouraging students to take an active role in preventing campus sexual assault both through peer education and institutional changes.

I could show you the statistics, pictures of women and men who have had their dignity and autonomy taken from them, reports on the effects of sexual assault on mental health and academic aptitude, but I'm not going to. What I am going to do instead is to urge you to shift the paradigm when discussing sexual assault, to engage critically with your peers and try new approaches in school policies, to not just put a Band-Aid on the victims but to make sure there are no victims who need patching up. It's time that we as students take a stand, in order to ensure that our peers are safe from sexual assault. I would like a world, a campus, in which no new people become victims. Let's get to work.

— Lily Weissgold, Colorado Springs

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