Sexual assault is not limited to any single gender, race, ethnicity or religion; it has no bias.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women and one in 71 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. One in five female victims and one in 16 male victims are sexually assaulted while in college.
In 2015, 14,551 students enrolled at The University of Southern Mississippi with 64 percent being female. Hypothetically, with calculations derived from the NSVRC, 465.6 female students and 327 male students could have experienced sexual assault out of the 14,551.
According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, students can take action to protect themselves through awareness, education and intervention in dangerous situations.
“We can all take steps to increase safety on college campuses,” RAINN’s website said. “As bystanders, students can learn ways of stepping in to prevent crimes like sexual assault from occurring. No tips can absolutely guarantee safety – sexual violence can happen to anyone, and it’s not the only crime that can occur on a college campus. It’s important to remember that if you are sexually assaulted on campus, it is not your fault – help and support are available.”
Through awareness of surroundings at a party and bringing along a friend, a student can protect themselves in an unfamiliar place, according to RAINN.
Junior public relations major Ann Marie Dorsey said she usually brings her own drinks to parties and stays aware of her surroundings.
“If I don’t [bring my own drink], I make sure that I keep my drink in my hand at all times,” Dorsey said. “I [try] to not get too intoxicated so that [I am] aware of my surroundings and make sure that whatever [I am] drinking is in my hand the whole time.”
Rainn suggested students should make a plan and stay in a group.
Senior computer engineering major Nick Johnson said using date rape drugs or taking advantage of others is “messed up.”
“I pre-game at home with a designated driver, and I recommend others do the same,” Johnson said. “Also, don’t accept drinks from anyone – even if you think you know them.”
The common date rape drug rohypnol is a white or olive green pill that makes the recipient experience loss of muscle control, confusion, dizziness and sleepiness, according to Women’s Health.
The NSRC said nine out of 10 victims of sexual assault know their attacker.
“I’ll mix my own drinks if I’m able, keep it in my hands and stick with my closest friends,” said Dakota Vaughan, a senior English major. “If I mingle, I’ll make sure to keep my particular red solo cup near my chest and in my view whenever possible. It’s also best to avoid getting [hammered] at these sorts of parties and finish off the drunkenness at home. If I’m at a bar, I make sure I know the bartender and could trust him or her. I would still make sure that I didn’t leave my drink alone.”
The NSRC said only five percent of sexual assault is reported.
Junior education major Tara Marler said a student should leave their situation or location if they suspect they have been drugged or that someone is trying to take advantage of them.
“Since most sexual assaults go unreported, I think it’s important to tell someone,” Marler said. “Sexual assault and rape is never the victim’s fault, and no one should blame them. How much you have to drink doesn’t matter, but make sure that you bring your own drink and that you don’t set it down. You should also make sure that you have a way home. It’s not safe to just crash at a party and hope that nothing goes wrong. You can’t trust everyone.”