Please talk to your friends about consent

My experience with sexual assault and the #MeToo movement has been distant and removed. Coming into high school, I always assumed that sexual assault was a college problem. I assumed that when you left high school and entered college there would be a sudden risk of random predators coming out of the shadows. I never thought that a friend would be sexually assaulted by another friend, let alone halfway through freshman year.

The idea that sexual assault starts in college is simply wrong. Starting in high school, we need to prevent sexual assaults. We should be talking about consent and sexual assault during freshman year health, not waiting until sophomore year. It is never too early for students to start learning about consent. Urban is a very progressive and informed community, but we still have problems with sexual assaults. I initially assumed that because Urban is a progressive place and everyone I knew was a good person, there wouldn’t be a problem. Even after the first incident I heard about, I assumed it was a one-off event. I didn’t think people would habitually have rumors of assaults following them.

Many of these incidents happen freshman or sophomore year, before we start to talk about consent in health. They were happening when people were starting to do drugs and go to parties. They were also happening when people were afraid to say something and socially alienate themselves.

Each year at Urban I have seen my classmates become more cognizant of consent and frequently staying away from situations where consent would be questionable. But there are still rumors of people habitually ignoring everything we have been taught. This isn’t really talked about by anyone except for flippant remarks like, “did you hear what __ did again?” People seem to have just accepted that some people are predators which is dangerous. People don’t try and talk to their friends and fix their actions.

There is a problem of students at Urban being conscious of people sexually assaulting other students and no one saying anything. This is a problem of actions not having consequences where they matter. There are few social repercussions for these actions and people continue. This issue of people staying silent is something that has started to be addressed outside of Urban with the #MeToo movement, but this movement has seemingly passed Urban over. Urban students, especially guys, need to stand up for what is right and confront their friends when they hear rumors, even if it is just to confirm nothing bad happened.