Stop Raising Aggressors, So We Can Stop Preparing For Sexual Assault

Why Our Current Interventions May Be Worsening The Problem

By Lul Mohamud

We know college has much more to offer its students than what’s displayed on brochures and websites. Behind their advertisements lies the worst kept secret on America’s college campuses: sexual assault. Sexual violence has not ever been a feature colleges or universities are eager to discuss – and there’s yet to be a school that steps up to become the exception. And waiting any longer will not solve our problem.

On every college website you’ll find an office dedicated to the sexual assault problem, and a few clicks away awaits a bystander program. Bystander interventions remain the weapon of choice utilized by administrators in the battle against sexual assault. Colleges across the United States have been rewording the same message of stepping up to protect your fellow student. This may be an effective effort from an ethical standpoint, but it is not a practical one. However, it has served as an effective mouthpiece to protect these institutions from accusations of an inadequate response – or from the financial or reputational consequences that would result. But this response has had a more detrimental consequence on its most burdened with the task of sexual assault prevention, their students. In the largest survey on Sexual Assault and Misconduct in 2019, the Association of American Universities found a significant increase in the rate of nonconsensual or forced sexual contact amongst all students when compared to their last climate survey in 2015. We owe it to our students to fix what’s broken, and not only readjust the bandage of an under-utilized training or sentimental PR campaign.

Yes, we all agree in common place conversation that sexual violence is wrong and should be stopped. Up to two-thirds of the American public view sexual assault and harassment as a widespread societal issue, and about 74% see this as an important problem in the United States. But no matter how comforting these findings may sound, sexual violence and misconduct remain on the rise, revealing this “we all know better” rhetoric to be a smokescreen we’ve relied on to keep from viewing the true extent of this harrowing crisis. A crisis birthed by our complacency and historic reluctance to fight at the roots of sexual violence – and keep that life-saving fight alive.

Current campus sexual assault prevention programs rely on the assumption that sexual assault is inevitable – an occupational hazard of being a student. It is time to abandon this ineffective reactionary approach that awaits assault. A proper crisis response employs eradicative and preventative measures first. As reported by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, the extent of the American sexual violence problem desperately calls for a new approach – an action plan that addresses its pervasive, widespread, and devastating nature.

That plan must begin with accepting that at the root of sexual violence lies power. Sexual violence is a purposeful violation of physical liberty, gutting its victim of the basic right of agency over their body. And to belittle the gravity of the decision to commit sexual violence to an “indiscretion” or “lapse in judgement”, is to revoke the validity of agency over your body. We, as the American public, are guilty of minimizing the nefarious nature of sexual assault by calling it a “mistake” in defense of perpetrators, and by placing the weight of the assault on the victim. We commit the latter through our cultural colloquialisms regarding sexual assault, and more despicably through indoctrinating ourselves and our children with the belief that only those “at-risk” are responsible for mitigation – and when they are assaulted it is due to their failure to take adequate precautions.

Sexual violence is an abuse of power. Not an accident or misjudgment, but a choice that abusers have been emboldened to make. The solution needed is a strategic intervention that cuts out the decision-making process and removes sociocultural factors that lead to the choice of assault. This strategy begins with reorienting who we define as “at-risk”.

Only with a consensus that identifies those “at risk” to be the people given the choice to perpetrate sexual violence, will we begin to develop and implement successful interventions. With this method we will erode the outer layers, and gain access to the epicenter of this crisis where we then can initiate generational behavior change.

We must develop nationwide educational and accountability campaigns that focus on sexual agency, with the collective goal being to incorporate them into American culture. However, the impact of these campaigns are entirely contingent upon the inclusion of collective action against the abuse of authority and the wrongful bestowal of societal power. Speaking up and fighting against our historically institutionalized white, male, heterosexual, and class supremacies in our homes, schools, workplaces and courts will catalyze the societal change we seek.

It is a change that will alter the lives of our families, friends, and fellow strangers. But, until sexual agency is rightfully woven into the fabric of American liberty and freedom, our sexual violence crisis will no longer remain a problem to solve – but a shameful pillar of American livelihood.

Support Your local Rape Crisis Center and RAINN here.

If you’d like to contact the author, Lul Mohamud is available for comments and questions via Instagram @thelulmohamud.

Why I Hate the Rice Purity Test

By Riya Gopal

A few days ago, one of the girls in my group chat suggested we all take the Rice Purity Test. For those unfamiliar, it is an online test created by Rice University designed to evaluate one’s “innocence” on worldly matters, mostly involving sex, drugs, or criminal activity. After taking the test, you are provided with a number between 0 and 100, with a lower number being indicative of impurity. I had taken the test before, but wanted to take it again to see if my number had changed. So, I pulled up the test and began.

What’s crazy to me is what happened next. After seeing my score, my stomach dropped. I had lowered a few points since previously taking the test, and I felt this wave of shame overcome me. I felt dirty. I went onto the group chat and saw my friends sharing their numbers, all of them equally embarrassed. While scrolling through the chat, I realized something. The girls were experiencing shame regardless of if their numbers were low or high. One girl was ashamed of her 30. Another girl was ashamed of her 80. There was no number that felt right. There was no winning.

The implications of this test are deleterious to self-image. As human beings, our experiences do not have to define us. Carrying around a number that signifies past experiences in relation to our purity is an intangible but heavy burden. These labels of being a “prude” or “slutty” are subliminal byproducts of how we perceive ourselves after taking this test. Why are we making sexual activity, something that is supposed to be a natural and enjoyable act, a contamination to our being? Why should a criminal past define those who have changed and grown since?

Purity should not be defined by your past, but rather by the philanthropic and kindhearted measures you take in your day-to-day life. It does not matter how much sex you have had or how many drugs you have taken (as long as you are safe and healthy!!). What matters is the present moment, and how you use the goodness in your heart to impact those around you. That is what a pure being is.

9 feel-good songs to (you guessed it) help you feel good in quarantine

By Thea Gay

During this time of tension, uncertainty, and stress here are nine feel-good songs that you can dance, sing, chill or relax to! Enjoy this small playlist, be safe, and take care of yourself.

  1. Keep It Gold / Surfaces
  2. Daydream / The Aces
  3. Valentine / COIN
  4. Levitating / Dua Lipa
  5. Glitter / Benee
  6. My Dude / Litany
  7. Sweet / Bren Joy, Landon Sears
  8. Golden / Harry Styles
  9. Juicy / Doja Cat


Featured image: Benee (Source: Isolated Nation)

Practicing Self-Care at Home

By Avery Serven

 Over the past month, social distancing and working from home have become the norm across the country. In times like these, it’s normal for everyone to have a lot on their mind. Therefore, practicing self-care at home is essential. And no, this doesn’t mean just taking a bubble bath every now and then; it’s about actively practicing self-care. Staying home all day can take a toll on your mental health, but there are a few things you can do to put yourself first. Here are some of my best tips for actively practicing self-care at home!

1- Keep doing the things you love

When we have unprecedented times like these, it’s easy to keep your activities to the bare minimum, whether they involve doing schoolwork or working from home. Remember to continue doing the things that you are passionate about (as long as they don’t put you or anyone else in harm’s way). This can be anything from running to gardening to doing yoga. And it doesn’t always have to be something that is physically active––it can also mean watching a favorite childhood movie, reading a new book, or listening to an interesting podcast. You can also take the opportunity to try something new! Whatever it is, make sure you keep it up so that you’re continuing to make time for yourself outside of work or school. Even just ten minutes a day of an activity will serve as a much-needed break from your regular routine.

2- Take time to relieve stress and anxiety

Since everything has shifted online, it may be a hard adjustment to not have in-person mental health resources. Luckily, there are a ton of apps out there that are really great for helping with meditation and mental health. One of my favorites is Stop, Breathe & Think. This meditation app is personalized, greeting you with a check-in page upon opening the app. It asks how you’re feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally, and then recommends meditations for you. Most of the meditations are under ten minutes, so they’re easy to squeeze into your day. Headspace is another great one that can serve as a relaxing escape from your daily routine. The app has group meditations, as well as exercise-focused meditations to get you moving in a mindful way. Similar to Breathe, there are a ton of different topics on Headspace, so you’re sure to find something you’re interested in.

3- Get outside (while practicing social distancing)

Obviously, social distancing is very important to remember. However, since it’s springtime and many places are closed, you might use this as an opportunity to go for a hike or a walk. I’ve already explored some new areas around my house, and I’m so glad I did. Spending alone time in nature can have many unintended benefits. Whenever I spend time outside, I find that I’m usually able to clear my head of any anxiety and stress that I may be feeling. Just the other day I went for a run in a new area, and it was a great way to get out of the house and unplug. If you live in an area that allows you to explore the outdoors, I would definitely recommend taking the time to do so!

4- Try to stay active

As I mentioned before, your choice of activity doesn’t have to involve doing something physically active––but it also can’t hurt to keep up with exercising! Exercise is a great way to keep yourself busy while you’re at home, and you won’t regret it once you’re done 🙂 Since there are countless videos online that cater to any and all of your fitness needs, it’s easily accessible, especially if you don’t have equipment. Staying active and healthy is an essential part of self-care; luckily, it’s very accessible while staying home.

5- Maintain a routine

In addition to trying new things and taking breaks throughout your day, try to stick to some kind of daily routine. For me, keeping a routine is essential for maintaining my mental health, especially in a time like this. Maintaining a routine doesn’t necessarily mean doing the same exact thing every day, but rather trying to keep a few things in daily life constant. This can be something very small or something big. Personally, I have been trying to start my day the same every morning: waking up, making my bed, getting dressed, and making breakfast. While these things seem like a given, the consistency of having the same steps every morning helps to keep me on track. This way, I’ll have the same productive mindset that I had when I was back on campus. It doesn’t have to be big, but some version of a daily routine might be helpful!

I hope you found these tips for practicing self-care at home useful. In these unsteady times, remember to make time for your mental health. The most important thing right now is keeping yourself and your loved ones healthy and happy!