FIrst, completely agree that the growing trend of sexual assaults on campus is beyond disturbing.

Second, also agree that the seeming lack of significant public discussion on the growing sexual violence and safety issues are equally disturbing. Though to be honest, I am not sure if the trend is actually growing or if just becoming more reported and public. Public discussions and awareness might help address that.

We shared these concerns in some GCOM discussions we had recently regarding this same article, an incident I witnessed and the upcoming (now past) Halloween celebrations. Quick side-anecdote: group of male students in middle of on-campus street hanging out, catching-up and lingering for too much time. In response to someone honking to move along, they fake kick a woman’s car (didn’t honk) and imitate/threaten nonverbal sexual violence against her. Our class discussion centered on how seemingly innocent and joking acceptance of everyday sexual violence made/makes possible the acts we have read about in paper and via email. And not just by the aggressors but by a culture of acceptance/silence.

Finally, efforts to make visible and present a community that declare these acts of violence unacceptable should be applauded and continued. I hope there is a great presence/turnout for Stand Against Sexual Violence. But it should not stop there, as it has not stopped over the course of years on this blog and in the JMU/Harrisonburg/Valley communities.

While I agree that talking is not enough I worry sometimes about that sentiment. For many of us, that is all we can and perhaps even should do. Obviously, we all hope that if ever in a situation where physical violence is taking place, we have the courage and strength to physically intervene. But not all of us find ourselves in those situations and likely not very often.

More likely, we are in situations that might call forth and even demand, talking. You are with friends and one is joking about how they want to get someone drunk and take advantage of them. One should talk about how that is not funny and is in fact serious and potentially violent. You are in class and someone is talking about going out for the evening. One should talk about being aware, safe and precautions. You are at a party and someone is commenting about how all of this talk about sexual violence on campus is exaggerated. One should talk about how it happens everyday and could happen to anyone, even walking home at 8:30pm at night. Talking is action. I have little doubt that you and most of the readers of this blog would agree.

You are right that silence on these issues is problematic. While we jump and scream about political candidates’ positions on rape or legislative moves on birth control (and we should continue to do so), we do not see or hear the same discursive action here regarding campus violence and safety. But in addition to saying talking is not enough, maybe we should also say we need more talking.

We needs to talk more here about sexual violence and safety issues. Or perhaps, the talk we need/do should be more open and public. The Stand Against Sexual Violence is a great way to communicate, even if not verbally with words, that we know sexual violence is happening and we refuse to let these actions take place unnoticed. Everyone needs to know that these issues are talked about, that they matter to all of us. Everyone needs to know and see that this violence, these forms of actions are not acceptable in our community. We need to talk about building a community that does not tolerate or accept sexual violence and in the process, we create safer and more welcoming communities.