By Zoey Maleekah LaChance
There is an epidemic in this nation. An epidemic targeting our youth.
Walls and doors cannot prevent it, nor can public safety waiting in their camouflaged cars for something to happen out in the open or for one of the infected to step forward.
90% of the infected will not step forward.
They will not step forward because the epidemic is terrifying and controlling.
They will not step forward because the world is quick to label them as victims instead of survivors.
They will not step forward because once upon a time on this campus, a girl said that she was infected and she lied.
They will not step forward because public safety and the world will assume they are lying too, but who would lie about something so horrible?
They will not step forward because it is assumed that people who do step forward “wanted it to happen” and those who don’t are “weak for not standing up for themselves”
They will not step forward because this epidemic is considered a women’s issue and they are a man.
They will not step forward because they have been crippled by fear, some paralyzed by panic disorder to the point where only their medication gets them out of bed and to class each morning.
They will not step forward because as much as the epidemic hurts them, they have fallen in love with it.
It is not safe for them to step forward and it is not safe for them to remain silent because our culture has made the world unsafe for them, unsafe for us, unsafe for our future children.
But we have the power to change culture.
We can no longer just say “Not Anymore”, we must mean it.
We can no longer require women to learn volleyball in high school gym class instead of self-defense.
We can no longer start education when people arrive in college, we must teach them about consent from the moment they open their eyes because studies show that their behaviors and habits will be formed by the time they are in middle school.
We can no longer not have a minimum sentence for this epidemic in America because three months is not long enough to stay in jail for taking control of another person’s body.
We can no longer allow presidential candidates- or anyone- to say “grab her by the p***y like it’s no big deal, passing it off as “locker room talk” or just a part of our culture because our culture should be better than that.
We can no longer pretend that the epidemic is not on our campus because our statistics show that our rates have more than tripled between 2014 and 2015 and that’s just the reported rates.
Remember how I told you that 90% of the infected will not step forward?
One in five women and one in sixteen men are sexually assaulted while in college.
I am the one in five.
I am the 90%.
The epidemic is at Drew.
And we must fight.
Zoey is a junior Art major and a Film and Media Studies, Photography and Writing minor.