The March 21 town hall was a valuable forum for the ongoing discussion on sexual assault. Many students stood in front of Thorne, cried, were angry and tried to bring change. Afterwards, students were invited to multiple debriefing sessions for reflection. But after that day, the discussion fell short; there were no longer forums for reflection, just debate, on campus.
It raises the question: once we take care of our friends who were sexually assaulted, who takes care of us?
So far the attitude on campus is directed at two groups: the alleged perpetrators and the survivors. But there is a large group of students whose suffering has yet to be acknowledged. The entire student body feels the weight of this monumental issue. The sexual assault controversy transcends typical divisions and has the potential to unite the student body under one common objective.
Yet the college has failed to provide sufficient support to every member of the community. Yes, Emmons holds counseling sessions, but they are ill-equipped and far too few.
Fostering a forum where students can sit down and talk together about these issues would be a welcome addition to the services already provided. A student grief group exists for those who lost loved ones. Something similar should exist for the topic of sexual assault for every member of our community. A mediator could be there to make sure the discussion does not turn hateful. It is a constructive way to let everyone give their input without joining a predominant group on campus.
Project S.A.F.E. and other organizations have started the discussion. People like Dominic Alletto from the Intercultural Center are doing good work helping students during this difficult time, but more proactivity higher up is needed. It is up to the administration and to Emmons to continue the discussion, to allow for a space where students can openly talk about a subject that deeply affects them.
No one is asking how we are. The administration has to go beyond just the first degree of separation. As a student body, no matter how polarized we become through social media brawls, we are all affected by the sexual assault issues, and people could be making Tumblrs because no one is asking what they think or how they feel.
When all these sexual assault-related events occur in a relatively short amount of time, the administration cannot simply “encourage those individuals dealing with trauma to seek the support and care they need” and expect us to come to them. Instead, Emmons and other organizations should advertise counseling, increase their hours and hold large group counseling sessions.
During a time rife with emotion and tension on campus, Emmons should also enhance their mental health services. Students would be more likely to seek help from Emmons if it was staffed with trained psychologists instead of ill-equipped interns. Occidental students deserve a better mental health facility that is capable of helping students cope with the emotions triggered by the sexual assault issue.
This editorial represents the collective opinion of the Occidental Weekly Editorial Board. Each week, the editorial board will publish its viewpoint on a matter relevant to the Occidental Community.
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