Verbum Ultimum: Play Safe

by The Dartmouth Editorial Board | 2/7/13 11:00pm

Winter Carnival is a time when students take a break from the pressures of coursework to come together and celebrate the season. Many Greek houses will host parties that are open to all of campus and alcohol will flow freely. This spirit of revelry unfortunately brings a darker side to Carnival, as sexual assault cases historically rise during big weekends. As students enjoy the weekend, they must keep this increased risk in mind, take necessary steps to prevent assault from occurring and remain aware of resources available to assault victims.

Dartmouth strives to be a community where all individuals feel safe, and sexual assault is antithetical to this goal. The community must take responsibility for preventing these crimes. Intoxicated individuals are particularly liable to make poor decisions and other students must be willing to speak up and step in when situations arise. If we are truly to be a community, we must look out for our friends and our peers.

Campus is full of resources to help prevent sexual assault from occurring and to help victims, including Dick's House, Safety and Security's counseling and human development office, the department of student health promotion and wellness, Mentors Against Violence, Sexual Assault Peer Advisors and Sexperts. While resources abound, assault victims are often stuck between a rock and a hard place. If they wish to pursue justice, they must either deal with the police or navigate the College's complex and bureaucratic Committee on Standards process. Many people would reasonably find both of these options to be quite intimidating. As a result of this, many victims of assault simply remain silent. In order to prevent assaults from continuing to go unreported, we must work together to create a culture that denigrates these acts and supports victims and the resources that exist to help them.

In a similar vein, we would like to commend the Student and Presidential Committee on Sexual Assault for their decision to host a public discussion forum tomorrow morning. This forum is ideally timed and will remind students of the issues at stake. It is our hope that the forum will allow students, faculty, administrators and alumni to generate new ideas to reduce the prevalence of sexual assault. We encourage students to take time out of Carnival festivities to engage in dialogue crucial to upholding the standards of our community.

This weekend can and should be a festive weekend. There will surely be a range of adventures undertaken and new memories made. However, let us also ensure that on Monday morning, we will remember positive and safe experiences. As with all big weekends, Carnival should be equally enjoyable for everyone and we should do our part to make it that way.