Rape culture is an issue that plagues college campuses across the country. The Obama administration launched the “It’s On Us” campaign in September to target rape culture, but sexual assault on college campuses must be addressed on a more individual scale, as well.
For this reason, the Editorial Board strongly supports Trailblaze and believe it is a meaningful way to fight sexual assault on college campuses.
Trailblaze is a new student group on campus that brings students together to have inclusive dialogue on sexual assault, similar to the goals of events like Tie a Yellow Ribbon Week and Take The Lead.
This week, they are hosting Trailblaze Action Week. They aim to challenge sexual assault through debate and empowerment. Rather than rely on the message students are taught in the classroom, Trailblaze wants to confront sexual assault by talking about factors that contribute to the high rate of sexual assault on college campuses.
We believe that all college campuses should encourage the kind of debate and discussion that Trailblaze is facilitating. The group creates discussion that is more valuable to fighting sexual assault than a lecture in the classroom. The entire community must discuss the factors that lead to sexual assault.
The community must discuss central issues in fighting sexual assault; victim shaming, blaming it on alcohol and consent are just some of the issues that students must confront and discuss.
Trailblaze’s first event, on Monday, involved asking students outside of Reynolda what they believe a safe campus would look like. There is more to fight sexual assault than a 50-minute health class, so it is important to discuss other aspects of staying safe on campus.
Trailblaze also hosted teach-in modules such as Gender Dynamics, Hook Up Culture and Sexual Assault. Educating the community is an important step in eliminating sexual assault. On Wednesday, they hosted a Policy Hack-A-Thon. This event encouraged students to come up with changes in policy that would help end rape culture.
Last year, PREPARE sponsored Tie a Yellow Ribbon Week, where students were encouraged to tie a yellow ribbon on a tree on Hearn Plaza to honor someone they know who has been affected by sexual assault and to support the fight against rape culture. PREPARE also hosted events designed to educate students. The week culminated in the Speak-Out during which they read anonymous testimonials of students. We believe that more college campuses should host events such as Trailblaze Action Week and Tie a Yellow Ribbon Day. Sexual assault is not just a problem that must be confronted at Wake Forest, but also at colleges across the country.
These events are vital because they encourage a more inclusive debate. Lectures in class are essential, but fighting sexual assault will require more than a single course. Students must come together and unite to not only lower the number of people that are sexually assaulted each year, but to eliminate sexual assaults altogether.
We on the Editorial Board think Trailblaze Action Week is an important initiative that is helping the university make strides in eliminating sexual assault on campus, and we hope that other universities host similar events.