For years, two of the biggest problems on colleges campuses around the nation have been underage drinking and sexual assaults. There is no college that is exempt from those problems, including Grand Valley State University.
In an effort to prevent one of these problems, GVSU applied for and received funding to combat sexual assaults and violence on campus. With that money, the Women's Center will be promoting programs across campus by recruiting peer educators from different disciplines and backgrounds to spread the word of what it means to be an active bystander. We want to commend the Women's Center for their dedication to creating a safer campus. In order to effect change, we need people in our community to go out and find ways to improve our social culture, and we are lucky to have such a driven group of individuals leading the way.
One of the most impressive elements of the grant program's plan is the integration of the curriculum into high school environments. Though students at GVSU should be active bystanders and look out for each other while promoting an educational approach to preventing sexual assault, there are also institutional precautions that can be put in place. Perhaps if we educate a younger generation that will soon find its way to college campuses, we can avoid instances of violence and make respect for each other and our bodies the norm.
As a student, it can be frustrating to feel as though you don't have the power to change a negative environment around you. With this grant's initiatives, students will be in the driver's seat. Representatives from athletic groups, Greek life, student organizations and other areas will be able to spread the message of what it means to speak up in a difficult situation and why this is important in a college community.
Sometimes, it's hard to listen to administration talking about how to change a problem that directly impacts students. This is a constructive way to take the message on the road and reach the greater community. Additionally, peer education and holding your peers accountable is especially important because it can be even more effective than having faculty or administration attempt to hold people accountable.
It's easy to say that we have a problem, but it's harder to work to fix the issue. We need people on our campus who are willing to put in the work. We have more than 500 student organizations on our campus. These organizations are lead by people who have passion, drive and a sense of responsibility. So, now is the time to step up and make a difference in a very real, easy and applicable way. Now is the time to encourage others to be advocates for change.
Sexual assault is not just an administrative problem: It's a student problem, and it's on all of us.
Students interested in applying to be peer educators can visit www.gvsu.edu/itsonus/peer.