Sexual Assault Talk Draws Crowd

BY SANJAY TOURE’ // MARCH 31, 2015 //

Jaclyn Friedman was once a victim of sexual assault. But she is no longer a victim. Instead, Friedman has taken ownership of her story, and now shares it widely in the hope of helping young women — and men — to better own their decisions, behaviors and wellbeing.

Friedman, author of Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power, A World Without Rape, and What You Really, Really Want: The Smart Girl’s Shame-Free Guide to Sex and Safety, came to Curry on Thursday, March 26 to address students, faculty and staff alike. The event—hosted by the college’s Criminal Justice and Sociology Department—was mandatory for student-athletes at Curry, and many other students joined them in the Student Center gymnasium for the talk.

Friedman openly discussed her past, which included having her attacker still living on campus with her when they attended Wesleyan University in Connecticut. She said someone on the sports team she managed raped her, and that the college did little to address the issue. This was a big reason Friedman decided to become an advocate and bring awareness to sexual assaults.

Many people are under the false conception that assaults happen in dark alleys or weird, sketchy places. In reality, Friedman said, they mostly happen at casual events with close acquaintances. And assaulters don’t look like cartoon villains. They’re often the good guy, someone who gets good grades and who everyone loves.

Many assaults that happen in college occur when alcohol is involved, she added. Among the tips she offered was to have a friend tell you when you are making a bad decision. This goes for men and women. Before going out, come up with a code word or phrase to say when one of your friends is getting too touchy or intimate with someone who may not be interested in sexual interactions. It could be something as simple and subtle as “You left your lights on” or “Come to the bathroom with me.”

Laura Ferris and Jennifer Dube, freshmen at Curry, appreciated that the college put on the event, given the assaults on campus in recent years. Neither has been particularly happy with the college’s responses to date.

“We were given rape whistles when the incident occurred last year,” said Ferris, a nursing major. “What is that going to do for us?”

Added Dube, also a nursing major: “Events like these help people be educated on the subject, so that these incidents don’t happen in the first place.”

The issue of sexual assaults on college campuses has received national attention in recent years. The federal government has been investigating colleges’ and universities’ responses to alleged assaults, and have required schools that receive federal funding to offer educational training to students, faculty and staff. According to research by the National Institute of Justice, women in college face a far greater risk of sexual assault than women of the same age who are not attending school.

Another topic Friedman spoke about was “enthusiastic consent,” which is a mutual, verbal, physical, and emotional agreement that happens without manipulation, threats, or head games. Lastly, Friedman sought to remind students that sex isn’t scary and something to fear. It’s a normal part of human nature, and people should simply be conscious and aware of who they surround themselves with.

“It is not bad to try things,” said Friedman, “unless you don’t have consent.”

Education Against Sexual Assaults


Sexual assaults are a big problem on many college campuses. It is estimated that one in five women have been sexually assaulted during their college years. There were at least three reports of sexual assaults on campus at Curry College in 2013 alone.

To educate students about sexual assaults in college, Curry recently hosted its second annual Consent Day.

Participants and organizers of the Consent Day event included, from left, Public Safety Officer Irina Deane-Costa, Nazrawit Zeleke, Souban Doualeh and Alicia Guarino.
Participants and organizers of the Consent Day event included, from left, Public Safety Officer Irina Deane-Costa, Nazrawit Zeleke, Souban Doualeh and Alicia Guarino. // PHOTO BY ELAINA DRUID

There were multiple interactive activities for students to take part in during the Feb. 26. event. All were geared toward educating students about what “consent” is, the roles alcohol and other drugs play when it comes to consent, and also the resources available for victims of sexual assault.

As a way to draw students to the event, held in the Student Center, R.A.G.E. offered a free T-shirt to the first 300 students that completed all of the activities and turned in their stamped activity card. R.A.G.E., which stands for Raising Awareness Through Group Education, is a student-led, peer-education club.

Kerry Antunes, interim staff adviser to R.A.G.E and associate director of fitness and recreation at Curry, believes that “running programs like this that are fun and interactive really gets people to think about consent and learn about what consent actually is and what a sexual assault is.”

Programming made it clear that women aren’t the only ones who are victims of sexual assault. Men can also become victims as easily as women can. Cam Hoyt, a freshman psychology major and an executive board member of R.A.G.E., said his group worked hard this year to keep Consent Day gender neutral.

“Last year, a lot of the stuff was pink, so people thought it was just for women,” he said. “But we want to let people know [sexual assault] does happen to men, too.”

Rachel King, associate dean of students, said she believes that the lessons of Consent Day are “incredibly valuable.” For example, just because you’re in a relationship with someone doesn’t mean that there is consent for sexual activity.

Research indicates that alcohol plays a big role in sexual assaults on college campuses. One of the things students learned during Consent Day was that a person is typically in no condition to provide consent when they are under the influence of alcohol.

The college will hold another event geared toward educating students about sexual assault, on April 1 at 7 p.m. in the Student Center Gym. Filmmaker and activist Byron Hurt will speak about confronting sexual violence on campus.

We Are Not Children Anymore


Our parents don’t want to admit it. They all think their children are perfect angels who would never do recreational drugs or drink a little too much.

We are adults. We now have the freedom and the ability to do things we were never allowed to do under our parents’ and guardians’ watch. And because we have heard the word “no” for most of our lives, many of us are now taking our newfound liberation pretty far.

Some students take too much advantage of life without parental supervision at college. // STOCKVAULT.NET

Of course, there is truth to having too much of a good thing. College students are notorious for getting carried away with their new freedom. Some abuse it to the point where they are missing classes because they are too hung over or even getting in trouble with school authorities. Missing class means losing a chunk of tuition money, or enduring a heated lecture from your parents for poor grades or worse.

So, be careful with alcohol. Take the time to educate you and your friends about alcohol poisoning. Some warning signs for alcohol poisoning can include slow or irregular breathing, extreme confusion, pale skin, or if one vomits while passed out. It’s a good idea to keep all of this in mind when you’re at a party.

And it’s not just alcohol that first-year students need to be careful of. Drug use is also an issue. OK, weed might be less harmful in comparison to drugs like cocaine, heroin or acid (do people even do acid anymore?). But it’s hardly an innocent drug.

Take the time to learn about the affects of drugs. According to the link, not everyone who smokes weed experiences the same type of “high.” It can differ because of “…potency, dose, chemical composition, method of consumption and set and setting.”

As a little incentive, a new policy has been added to Curry’s financial aid system: If you are caught doing drugs on campus, you will lose your financial aid. So, keep that in mind if you ever decide to smoke pot on campus.

Being careful and responsible is the bottom line. Use your new freedom wisely. Because if you don’t, you might find yourself out of school and back living at home with your parents.