As a freshman at Davidson, coming to college opened up a world of experiences for me. I was excited to explore new opportunities and discover more about myself. While Davidson does more than the public schools I’ve previously attended to support different groups of people, there are still many ways the school can support marginalized and underrepresented voices to create a healthier environment on campus.
Unfortunately, sexual assualt is prevalent in college, even at Davidson, but I have yet to witnessed this issue being addressed by administration. If someone, typically a woman, comes out about having been sexually assaulted, nothing seems to be done about this. This reluctance of disclosure about something uncomfortable or traumatic can be due to the normalization of ignorance about such subjects at institutions, which mirrors rape culture. It normalizes something that is in fact a huge deal, and people should be able to reach out and feel supported during a time like this. A step in the right direction would be implementing a program or even creating a social media account through the college that is open for anonymous messages for victims of sexual assault, or an anonymous chat room for victims to speak about their experiences and connect with others so they don’t feel alone. This could also expand to people who want to talk about other issues we have learned about in GSS, such as questioning sexuality, adjusting to a PWI, or discovering one’s social identity. Simply talking about troubles and worries anonymously with others students who are feeling the same way can be reassuring and validating of their experience. This can help them feel heard and understood. I also think it could be beneficial if at least one of the counselors specialized in aiding sexual assault victims so they can effectively help students who want to talk about their experiences. Pairing this with an administration that addresses issues of sexual assault would create a much more comfortable and supportive environment for victims.
Something else that should be addressed that comes even before what I’ve mentioned above, is how sexual assault can be prevented in the first place. Although all first-years must complete modules about drugs, alcohol, and sexual assault, I think it is important to keep this relevant to all students throughout the year, not just the summer before they arrive. Similar to alcohol-related posters often displayed in dorms or bathrooms describing how much is appropriate to drink and resources for help, one way to maintain awareness could be to hang posters like this concerning consent – how to show it, enforce it as best you can, and be safe if it goes too far. Davidson could offer more talks or information for resources that can help students be more informed and aware of how to be as respectful and safe as possible. In order to make these resources well known, the college must spread the word effectively and let all students know what is available to them, which hopefully can soon be more.
Generally, I think there are many ways that Davidson can implement, even small, but effective, means of support and aid for sexual assault victims, and minority groups on campus, and these are only a few.