By: Julia Brewer, Staff writer
Lebanon Valley College’s Green Dot Violence Prevention Committee and the STEP UP! Program hosted a discussion about sexual assault on college campuses with Best Selling Author, Jon Krakauer.
Krakauer, author of “Into Thin Air and Into the Wild,” was at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Harrisburg on Wednesday, Oct. 27. Krakauer led a discussion about the national issue of campus sexual assault in response to his latest novel, “Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town.” The event was viewed via a live stream by colleges and universities across the state, including LVC.
“Missoula“ tells the true story of several rapes on the University of Montana’s campus and the lack of response from both school and state authorities. Several students at the school agreed to share their stories with Krakauer and those cases are closely investigated in the book. Repeatedly, he used extremely graphic imagery when describing the assaults specifically to convey how brutal it is.
“I wanted the voices of the victims to come out,” Krakauer said. “It’s not just sex as we think of it.”
Through his investigations while writing the book, Krakauer learned that sexual assault on college campuses is a hugely under-reported problem. Schools and criminal justice systems typically fail to achieve justice as only 3 percent of the assaulters end up in jail. He also credits victim-blaming and the glorification of college athletes to the lack of action.
“Rape is the only crime where if you are the victim, you are put on trial,” Krakauer said. “People don’t want to believe their heroes are bad people. We need a huge shift in our attitudes for things to change.”
Both Krakauer and representatives from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape stressed that bystander intervention is the biggest proponent in preventing sexual assault and bringing about change. The It’s On Us campaign was introduced nationally to bring awareness and prevention to the issue of sexual assault on college campuses through education and empowerment.
Pennsylvania was the first state to adopt and implement the program into its education systems. At LVC, the Green Dot committee and STEP UP! program work to inform students about the realities of sexual assault on campus while providing them with the tools and confidence to intervene in potentially dangerous situations. Hosting the live stream is one of the many ways groups at LVC are working to make the campus a safer place.
“I thought it was really informative and much needed because rape is a serious deal that could happen to anyone at any time,” Amanda Mellendick, a sophomore physical therapy major, said. “Everyone should be taught about it and make sure they know what to do if caught in a bad situation that could lead to rape.”
Sexual assault is a major issue on campuses across the nation. However, through education and continued discussion at events such as the live stream with Jon Krakauer, students have the power to bring about change.
For more information on the issue or if you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, please visit pcar.org.