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Sexual assault education: a proposal

| Monday, January 22, 2018

In light of the sexual assault that reportedly occurred on campus Nov. 4, I would like to propose a change in how the University combats sexual misconduct.

Sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. However, I, as a female college student, want to learn everything I can to avoid becoming a victim. Knowledge is power, and I feel profoundly undereducated on this subject. I do not want to go through the trauma of sexual assault. I want to know exactly what I can do to maximize my chances of safely removing myself from that type of situation. Throughout the Moreau First Year Experience classes, sexual assault has been condemned and consent has been emphasized. This is a step in the right direction. However, sexual assault still occurs.

I propose that the University of Notre Dame increase educational opportunities on effective and safe responses to sexual misconduct. Currently, Notre Dame offers a $45 Rape Aggression Defense class. The topics covered in this class include self-defense techniques, awareness and risk reduction strategies. In a study conducted by Lindsay Orchowski at Ohio University and published in Psychology of Women Quarterly, researchers found that a program similar to Notre Dame’s RAD class “was effective in increasing levels of self-protective behaviors, self-efficacy in resisting against potential attackers, and use of assertive sexual communication over a four-month interim.” This data validates my belief in the importance of such classes, and urges me to suggest a change.

Notre Dame’s RAD class, while very thorough, is expensive, time consuming and exclusive. This class requires participation in weekly sessions for six successive weeks due to the cumulative nature of the course. In addition, even though both men and women are sexually assaulted, this class is only open to women. I believe a version of this class that is open to both men and women, not as expensive and less time consuming would greatly improve education in this area. I believe a basic knowledge and awareness is essential, and I urge the University of Notre Dame to take this step towards the wellness of their students.

Maggie McDonald
Dec. 7

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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