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Combat alcohol abuse to stop sexual assault

| Wednesday, August 26, 2015

At the end of the school year, we received an email message from Vice President for Student Affairs Erin Hoffmann Harding, delivering her State of the Campus address concerning sexual assault.

Every student has received emails like this, from the mandatory reporting emails sent out by Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP), to messages from student government, to post-incident prayer services at the grotto. Everyone can agree on the troubling prevalence of sexual assault on our campus. But the question then becomes, what are we doing about it?

In my past four years as a Notre Dame student, some examples of things we have done to combat sexual assault are prayer services, lectures, active bystander training, petition signing and a variety of other awareness-raising initiatives. This seems like quite an extensive list to be sure, but where is the improvement?

If anything, I would say the sexual assault situation on campus is becoming more severe with each year, culminating in a grand total of 15 sexual assault reports in 2013, according to the University’s 2014 Clery Act statistics.

I believe we are missing the core issue by a long shot. To me, it would seem obvious that the issue we really need to talk about is alcohol abuse.

It is no secret that alcohol is involved in almost every Notre Dame case of sexual assault. Our campus is a swampland of alcohol. Yet, our self-deceptive culture seeks to throw this under the rug and point the spotlight elsewhere. Getting everyone all hyped up about campaigning against sexual violence and engaging in superfluous talk, I think, is a perfect plan to undermine any real progress towards eliminating sexual violence.

Of course these initiatives are not wrong in themselves, but in the current situation, it is putting the cart before the horse. We are hypocrites for uplifting respect and dignity while also complying with the culture of drunkenness. If we seriously want to combat the issue of sexual assault, we need to do a reality check and realize that Notre Dame has become a campus of two-faced drunks. We need to decide that our culture of alcohol abuse is intolerable and only then can we expect to see positive change.

John Sontag

Graduate Student

Dept. of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

April 28


The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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