Colgate’s drinking culture is thoroughly connected with the hook-up culture that embeds our campus. Not only is this a work-hard, play-hard school, but sometimes the playing gets a little out of control.
Sexual assault and rape are problems on our campus. It happens here. Just like it happens on every other college campus across the country, and across the globe. Statistically, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted every two minutes.¹ This statistic is staggering as a female college student when you also learn that “girls ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.”²
These statistics are awakening for college students. It happens. And it might even happen to you. Or someone you know. That is unfortunately the reality we live in today. Statistics from Colgate’s Campus Climate Life Survey of 2009 showed that more than 70% of Colgate students have reported some form of sexual harassment.³
This is a rampant problem on Colgate’s campus, and unfortunately there are not enough people trying to do something about the problem in the administration. Additionally, it is not clear at all to me that students know the proper venues to take following an assault or rape.
One thing that many students probably do not know is what a SANE Nurse is. A SANE Nurse is a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, and they are a nurse that is specially trained to go through a Rape Kit with a victim in such a thorough way that they can testify in court. They focus specifically on the patient and helping her (or him) begin to cope with the situation at hand, as well as collecting evidence for court if the victim decides to testify. They are extremely comforting in such a difficult time and they are always up to date on the most current medication you may need–to test for date-rape drugs (of which there are over 800), to test for STDs/STIs, to decide if you need Plan B, or a HIV preventive medicine. All of these things are extremely important, which is why victims need to go to the hospital, but many do not go.
Hamilton Hospital does not have a SANE Nurse. The closest ones are in Oneida, a 40 minute drive. I learned recently that Campus Safety will drive you if you call them. But let’s just pause there for a second. If you have just been victimized, are you really going to want to get driven for 40 minutes by some adult you don’t know, especially considering that they will then have to sit in the waiting room and wait for you to go back to campus? No. The answer is just no.
So then the answer is that you can just go to Hamilton Hospital and have a non-SANE nurse examine you. However, I have heard from multiple sources that the nurses there are hesitant to do them, to say the least. And that they then claim that if they had a SANE Nurse that they would not see enough cases to keep their status as a SANE Nurse.
I’m sorry, what?! Just because you think that sexual assault and rape doesn’t happen on this campus doesn’t make it true. It does. And by not providing such a service the hospital is ignoring a need of a large majority of students–which make up a large part of their patients for most of the year.
Something that Colgate needs to work on is honesty. Honest about the fact that everything here isn’t hunky-dory, and that there is a problem here that needs addressing. Not only does sexual assault, rape, and date-rape happen here, but “48 percent of men and 44 percent of women did not know what constituted sexual assault, 36 percent of males admitted to being in an ambiguous situation where they did not know whether a woman was too drunk to hook up.”4 These statistics suggest that there needs to be more of a clarification between the administration and the students. The fact that basically half of campus does not know what sexual assault is means that the numbers are most likely dramatically lower right now than they actually are. A terrifying thought.
I don’t have an answer. I think that for change to happen on our campus, we need to start with having the right resources, namely a SANE Nurse at the hospital, and ends with changing our social attitudes about women and their right to have a fun, safe time when they go out at night.