By Marcy Labellarte, Contributing Writer||

It is held by several justice agencies that between 18 and 25 percent of women and between 1.4 and three percent of men will experience sexual assault in their lifetime, and only 12 percent of those women and an even smaller percentage of men report their assault to police. This lack of reporting certainly begs the question: why? A recent Rolling Stone article provides us with some answers.

The article begins with the account of Jackie, a then-freshman at UVA in 2012. It starts with a date to Phi Kappa Psi, and proceeds to a brutal gang rape by seven men. “Grab its motherf******* leg,” one shouted, “Don’t you want to be a brother?” When Jackie found her friends, mixed reactions ensued. While one friend suggested she be taken to the hospital, another one announced: “Is that such a good idea? Her reputation will be shot for the next four years. She’s gonna be the girl who cried ‘rape,’ and we’ll never be allowed into any frat party again.”

Rape culture is the concept that society supports hegemonic expectations of gender and sexuality to the point where rape is normalized and in some cases even excused. Common behaviors in rape culture include victim blaming and objectification. Rape culture could not be more apparent than on college campuses, and this article about UVA exists as proof.

How many times have you heard jokes about being “raped” by a test? How many people jump to the conclusion that the accusers of sexual assault are lying, when at most, eight percent of reports are indicated to be false? How many times must we hear horror stories before we finally start to believe the victims?

The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network estimates that three percent of perpetrators will ever spend a day in jail. Who are we, as Americans, to call ourselves “free” when thousands of men and women live everyday in terror of what someone did or will do to them? Who are we, as students of F&M, to ignore and excuse the experiences of so many of our peers?

F&M, as many of us know, is one of 86 institutions of higher education being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education.

Our presence on that list is an example to all of us that justice does not yet exist for the survivors of the Franklin and Marshall community.

It is not too late for us to change the way we support our friends and peers.

I highly encourage the use of The Alice Drum Women’s Center for future dialogue about this incredibly important issue.