Campus for Consent holding panel on rape culture

By Annie Giffels | 4/2/18 12:11am

GVL / Courtesy -

As Grand Valley State University officials have made ending sexual assault on campus a priority, one student organization is holding an event on the subject. On Thursday, April 5, GVSU’s Campus for Consent will team up with Kandace Williams, a graduate assistant in the Gayle R. Davis Center for Women and Gender Equity, for a round-table discussion that will tackle the topic of rape culture. 

The event, “Unpacking Rape Culture," will start at 2 p.m. in the Kirkhof Center, Room 2259, as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Week at GVSU. Rape culture, explained briefly, describes a society that normalizes rape because of its views on gender and sexuality. Examples of rape culture can include victim blaming and slut shaming, among others.

To Jessica Goodwin, vice president of programming for Campus for Consent, rape culture has a clear definition that should not be ignored. She believes it should be discussed openly and regularly.

“Rape culture is the society we live in. It’s the prevailing attitudes and stereotypes that perpetuate the cycle of sexual assault,” Goodwin said. “It’s things like rape jokes, gender roles or stereotypes.”

Attendees will have the chance to discuss this topic and more with other students, the members of Campus for Consent and Williams. To help ease discomfort, the event will begin with a quick introduction that will introduce and explain the concept of rape culture. Goodwin hopes this introduction will spark a conversation among attendees. Afterward, the discussion will be opened up to everyone. 

Event planners have a few questions in mind and plan on asking them during this round-table discussion. What is rape culture? What are we doing to support it? How can we stop it?

Goodwin plans on bringing her point home and making it a bit more personal for students by using statistics from GVSU’s campus. Using these will, in her opinion, help prove her point: that rape culture exists and is still very much alive, even on our own campus.

“Our statistics for sexual assault are high," Goodwin said. “It’s really helpful to bring this point home so people know that these things are happening here.”

According to GVSU's 2017 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, there were 15 reported on-campus rapes in 2015 and three in 2016. Four of the incidents that were reported in 2015 actually occurred in 2014, however.

Goodwin also plans on using national statistics. She believes that it is important for students to understand how rape culture is affecting them on campus, as well as other students around the nation.

In addition to speaking about rape culture, Campus for Consent and Williams will also discuss the other aspects that tend to go hand in hand with it, such as sexual assault and violence. They are interested in other perspectives and will encourage students to help lead the conversation. To them, student involvement in this discussion is essential. 

“The tables will be set up in a circle,” Goodwin said. “We’re doing that so it’s more of a conversation, rather than us just talking at everyone else.”

The event is scheduled to go until 3:30 p.m. and is LIB 100- and 201-approved. For those who are interested in learning more about rape culture, Goodwin and Williams encourage them to come and join the discussion. 

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