Most students remember their first weekend at college as a memorable one. Maybe it’s their first time with a roommate, or maybe their first party, or maybe it’s their first chance to finally get to know the campus. Whatever the experience, most people remember it as a positive one, but for some people, it could be a traumatic one. On August 30th, 2016, Penn State’s first “Timely Warning” notification was sent out about a forcible sex offense that occurred on August 21st. These reports are sent because it’s “your right to know”. Since this date, five other “Timely Warnings” have been sent, and four of these five warnings have all been reports of forcible sexual assaults. That’s a problem…
As a student of Penn State University, I am entitled to know when there is a threat to the community or life on campus. Through the university’s timely warning announcements, all people at University Park are made aware of a reported incident that has occurred on campus and has affected people living here. In sending out these announcements, the community becomes civically engaged and is made aware of these issues. However, these notifications are linked to many other issues affecting civic life. Because of the presence of this artifact, people in the community are made aware of issues affecting students on campus, but the reports keep coming. It hasn’t stopped the problem.
Through the analysis of this artifact, it has drawn my attention to many concerns. In regards to the fact that basically all of the warnings issues have been about sexual assault, it made me question why more wasn’t being done to prevent it and raise awareness to the issue. In today’s society, rape is common. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), an American is sexually assaulted every two minutes, resulting in an average of 288,820 victims per year in people 12 and older. Despite how many facts are presented or evidence of the problem, people never believe the victims. This calls attention to another issue. People assume that all victims are women. People assume that a women “asked for it” in the way she was dressed. People assume that men have more to lose when they are accused. This is the problem. People just assume things. Nobody takes the time to think about an issue until it makes the headlines. The Bill Cosby and Brock Turner cases are just two examples in which sexual assault and rape have brought to light in recent mainstream media. Why is it that people can talk about it when it’s in the media, but everyday victims can’t be heard? Rape culture and its implications has caused me to think about so many other issues. Rape is more than just a problem of violation and assault. It raises concerns on gender differences, equality, and stigmas. Through the analysis of this artifact, its role in civic life, and the further issues that branch from it, I hope to extensively evaluate the effect it has on people and give them another perspective on the conversation.