Student tweet sparks conversation about sexual assault on campus

Published by adviser, Author: Cody Nespor, Date: February 16, 2018

“Isn’t she hot, dude? I’m trying to smash. This weekend I gotta get her drunk, but not too drunk.”

This was a conversation between a few male students that was overheard by SRU junior Marisa Ferrara on Nov. 29 inside the Smith Student Center here on SRU’s campus. Ferrara said she immediately froze up and became incredibly uncomfortable upon hearing this. The situation implied by this conversation is that this individual wanted to get this girl drunk so that she would have sex with him, which would be rape.

Ferrara said that she wanted to confront the student that said this, but she felt like he would either be mad at her for eavesdropping or just generally ignore her comments. Ferrara instead took to Twitter, tweeting the quote along with her own thoughts, “Absolutely disgusted I overheard a student say this in the Student Center today.” She explained that she thought putting this out online would help to start a larger conversation on campus about what is and is not sexual assault.

“(Hearing this) made me so uncomfortable,” Ferrara said. “I was eavesdropping on their conversation so my thought process was if I said anything to him, he might brush it off, it might not make an impact. So instead I went to Twitter and tweeted about it in the hopes that he would see it as well as other people to spark up a conversation.”

In one week since its posting, the tweet has over 700 favorites and about one dozen replies. SRU’s Associate Provost for Student Success, Dr. David Wilmes, replied to the tweet saying, “The number one date rape drug is alcohol. Drink if you want but don’t let a guy give you drinks.” Wilmes said that students need to be more conscious of what they are saying and the implications that their words can have. He also said that students need to call each other out on this kind of unacceptable behavior.

“I think it’s great that (Marisa) raised the issue,” Wilmes said. “I think that that kind of talk probably happens everyday and I think often we don’t think about what we’re saying, and it has meaning. I think it’s great that she posted about it and raised the issue and said ‘this is not right’.”

Wilmes said that the university needs to do more to educate students on what is and is not sexual assault. He said that there are plans in the works for information campaigns, both on social media and through on campus posters, during the Spring semester.

“A lot of us think about rape as this thing where a stranger jumps out of the bushes and attacks a woman,” Wilmes said. “But in fact, most of it happens where person who is assaulted knows there person who assaults them. It’s either an acquaintance or someone they ‘re dating.”

SRU Title IX Coordinator, Holly  McCoy, said that students generally have a better sense of what is happening on campus than administrators, so it is better for students to raise awareness about these types of issues. McCoy also said that incoming students are generally becoming more and more savvy about what sexual assault is and how to combat it.

Students are encouraged to download the Just In Case app, which gives students guidelines about how to talk about or deal with sexual assault that either happens to them or how to help a victim of sexual assault. In the event of sexual assault, students are also encouraged to contact campus police (724.738.3333), the counseling center (724.738.2034) or Victim Outreach Intervention Center in Bulter, Pa.(724.283.8700).


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