photo by Wei Liu Wen

“No means no.” You would think it’s as simple as that – our society respecting one another and our personal boundaries. As many start to leave home and go off on their own, especially to college, there is an issue that still swirls around in news headlines today. Sexual assault is still relevant and common today, which is a terribly unfortunate circumstance in America. But what many don’t realize is that there are many more layers to consent and rape than society knows. Rape is not getting the attention it needs in the media, and the constant negativity to these cases fails to give assurance to other victims to come forward and report their case, and as a result, scares them away.

According to a recent article from Buzzfeed,  Megan Rondini was an honors college student at the University of Alabama and would frequently give her friends rides to and from parties when they were intoxicated and unable to drive themselves.  Megan found herself in the same situation in July 2015, when a man known as “Sweet T” offered her a ride home. She agreed, but later said she “couldn’t remember how she ended up in Sweet T’s home”, and when he led her to the bedroom, she didn’t want to have sex with him.  When her case was being investigated, the first question that the cops asked her was, “Well, what were you wearing?” Which, sadly and also frustratingly, is the question that is most commonly asked in cases like these. They also asked her if it was consensual. She exclaimed that it wasn’t, but Sweet T, also known as T.J. Bunn, insisted that it was. Bunn also explained the girl was “troubled” and since Alabama has an archaic rape law, “Victims must prove they earnestly resisted their attackers” by kicking them, hitting them, or fighting back, and Megan had not done so.

Consent is something that has to be given verbally. The victim of rape is not at fault for what happened to her. And sadly in this case, the police made it seem like it was her fault that she was raped. Megan soon dropped the charges against Bunn and decided to attend counseling at the university. However, the counselor knew Bunn personally, so she couldn’t help her.  Megan and her family “decided it was no longer safe to stay in Tuscaloosa,” so Megan withdrew from the university. She ended up committing suicide.

Verbal consent is a tricky subject. In many cases, there has been a debate of when someone is knowingly able to give verbal consent. It brings up the question: Can a person give full and knowing consent while intoxicated?  How can one know that they want to have sex with a person if they won’t even be able to remember what they were wearing that day? It is very easy to persuade someone while under the influence. In movies, it’s troubling that when a man wants to pick up a woman, they result to offering her a drink or getting her drunk. Either a man or a woman should have the respect to back away if one is not able to give full consent. Many would say it’s common sense.

Another thing that is overlooked is that rape can go both ways. At Pasadena City College on April 7,  a male was raped by another male in the university’s locker room, according to ABC7 News.

Rape needs to be talked about. It’s a topic that people NEED to be educated on. It can happen to any gender, at any time or place. With many students heading to college, this topic is important more than ever. Some things to think about are to always travel with friends and make sure that one of your friends has made it known that they will be the designated driver for the time if there will be alcohol or drugs present. Stay aware of your surroundings and if you don’t feel comfortable or feel uneasy about the area you are in, leave immediately.

Even though rape is too relevant in our headlines today, we still have hope for our generation to raise and spread awareness. It all starts with spreading the word, knowing the warning signs, and being completely aware. Through this, our society can rise above and put sexual assault to rest once and for all.

Written by Veronica Lopez, Contributing Writer, and Grayson Ruiz, Lifestyle Editor