For this Q&A, The Daily Texan met separately with male and female students to discuss sexual assault and how campus culture and gender play a role. The names of the students have been changed to protect their identities.
The Daily Texan: How do you define sexual assault?
Courtney: Any sexual content that is unwanted by the other person.
Richard: Any sexual encounter without a firm consent given from a reasonable state of mind.
DT: How big of a problem do you think sexual assault is on campus? Is it talked about enough?
Courtney: Probably a bigger problem than we think it is. I feel like most people think that it is an issue, but there are a lot of cases that go unreported because they don’t think it’s a big enough deal or they don’t feel comfortable.
Will: I think, especially for me, in my group of friends, there’s an unspoken attitude that that would never happen to us. We just don’t even talk about it. Where with campus carry, if I had a gun we would talk about it a lot more. Its more of a “real” issue.
DT: Do you do anything to prevent sexual assault?
Courtney: I just try to keep an eye on how many drinks I’m having. I try not to get too inebriated, though sometimes if I get out of hand and then I will have safe words with friends. If I am not feeling a guy, I’ll say something and they’ll know immediately, stuff like that.
All male students: No.
James: It’s not enough to change my behavior. I think girls have to change their behavior everyday for it. As a guy its not always on your mind. The danger being paired with [an] actual threat isn’t really there.
DT: Do you think differently about someone who’s been sexually assaulted?
Nick: Everybody’s got baggage. For people who’ve been sexually assaulted that’s just their baggage. They didn’t choose it. Its something that happened to them, it isn’t who they are.
Elizabeth: Not in a bad way or a good way. It makes me feel for them. It doesn’t make me think badly of them it makes me feel like “wow that is really awful.”
DT: What institutions or activities on campus
James: Some parties, even the names, connotate sexual attire. Girls get free drinks or don’t have to pay anything to enter. That’s an indicator of the cultural acceptance of it. And it’s not just fraternities, any party where there’s alcohol.
Hannah: Parties bring out predators as well. They seek the vulnerable and also drinking at least in the way of “I’m going to get wasted” is a risky thing. I feel like people will try and get away with things when they are doing risky behavior.
DT: Do you feel like the other person expects something of you when you go out?
James: In the past there’s been times, I’d expect something, but it wouldn’t be a date. I’d know that I was trying to hookup. If there was a girl where we would have a thing going on but we weren’t dating, it was implied. So I did have an expectation going into it. If I was going on a date with a girl, I wouldn’t really expect anything.
Elizabeth: I feel like the pressure is put on me. I have to establish boundaries up front.
DT: Concerning sexual assault, what do you wish was different about being a man or woman?
Richard: I wish there was more emphasis on raising our sons to not expect anything. To not think the way I know a lot of people do.
Hannah: The thing that bothers me most is when I know that I am doing everything I can to be safe, and I’m still caught in a situation where I’m like ‘fuck, I’m 50 percent sure I’m about to be raped.’ It’s like what else can I do when I am doing all these things and I’m still getting caught in a scenario where I’m scared. It’s really frustrating.