by Lauren Murray, BTC Student
College is known for a lot of things—learning new things in interesting classes, meeting new people, joining cool clubs and going to fun parties. Amongst all these things that make college a great experience though, there are still the bad things that people like to push to the side and pretend that they don’t exist.
One of these topics people tend to overlook is sexual assault and rape on college campuses.
Cases like the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case have brought attention to issue of sexual assault on campus, but in reality sexual assault is occurring way more often than the occasional incident that gets news attention. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) “a college with 10,000 students could experience as many as 350 rapes per year”. Furthermore, RAINN has also found that 1 in 5 college students have experienced violence coming from someone who they have been intimate with. With such a high rate of rape on college campuses, it is important that students are aware of how they can protect themselves, their peers and what they can do to prevent sexual assault on their campus.
In response to this situation on college campuses, University of Maryland students created TerpLift, a student group created this semester as a part of UMD’s Beyond the Classroom Program. TerpLift’s goal is to help educate students about sexual assault and domestic violence on campus and the resources available for those dealing with these issues provided by the University of Maryland. Another goal of TerpLift is to find out what else students want from the University of Maryland. TerpLift is trying to find out what other resources or programs students think the school needs to provide. We hope that by reaching out to other students we can find out what they feel the school is lacking when it comes to dealing with sexual assault on campus and we want to take the information that we find and bring it to the attention of school officials. Sexual assault and domestic violence are issues that impact so many students and we want to make sure that we get to help our peers feel safer and more comfortable on campus.
What Does the University of Maryland Provide?
While there is more that needs to be done when it comes to the prevention of sexual assault and domestic violence on college campuses, the University of Maryland does provide resources for students who want to learn more or find themselves victims. If students find themselves in trouble they can go to the UMD Health Center, the Counseling Center or the Help Center. Students can also turn to CARE to Stop Violence, which is another sector of the Health Center. Through TerpLift we also hope to find more ways that the University of Maryland can help students.
What TerpLift is Doing for Students
We want students to give feedback on things that the school could that they may not already provide, such as classes about what sexual assault it, more counseling for students who have dealt with sexual assault and events to spread awareness. We are doing this by having students fill out an anonymous survey so that we can find out what students think UMD is doing well and badly at in relation to the issue of sexual assault on campus.
Another way that students connect to TerpLift is through our Ask FM page, which allows students to anonymously ask us questions, which we will then answer. This gives students the opportunities to ask things or give feedback that they may feel uncomfortable saying in person or with their name attached to it. TerpLift is also working to start up efforts for these resources by posting articles about sexual assault and violence to our Facebook and Twitter pages as well as finding events on campus that are related to spreading education and awareness about sexual assault and domestic violence.
TerpLift also collaborated with CARE to Stop Violence! and other UMD groups Half the Sky on a sexual assault awareness workshop. At the workshop attendees were able to learn more about sexual assault in a college atmosphere, rape psychology and the misconceptions about victims from Courtney Brooks who works for the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
In an article from Time magazine the magnitude of rape on college campuses is discussed. According to the article, research has shown “that 6% of college-aged men admit to forcing or coercing a girl into sex, and those that who do [admit] tend to be repeat offenders” but the article also points out how the way sexual assault is described can confuse young adults and scare them from discussing what sexual assault and rape really is. Instead of having a clear understanding of what sexual assault is, students are often left with questions because many school’s “student code just doesn’t answer [what is] sexual assault or not”. The Time article is making it clear that there needs to be a clearer and more open dialogue amongst young adults about what sexual assault is and how it can be prevented. TerpLift is taking action to help create this clearer and more open dialogue, but the broader UMD community must take action in order for real change to take place.
To learn more and get involved with TerpLift, you can follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/terplift or find us on Twitter @terplift. You can also find our Ask FM page at http://ask.fm/terplift. Download the TerpLift informational brochure here.
All images courtesy of TerpLift and Jenae Ramos.