Volume 96, Issue 14
Friday, September 20, 2002

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Awareness is priceless

Re: "Paper Thin Plan," Sept 19

To the Editor:

I am dismayed that both the ultimate goal of this campaign and the lists of safety related telephone numbers which were placed above payphones by the Safety Committee several years ago failed to capture the attention of The Gazette. A poster campaign (again, more paper) or victim counselling, while worthwhile solutions, fail to address the issue that the ultimate goal of all women's safety initiatives must be to keep women from becoming victims, not just support those already victimized.

A December, 2000 report on the sexual victimization of college women found that a campus of our size can expect to see a minimum of 350 completed rapes in an eight-month academic year, not to mention five times as many instances of rape threats and other forms of sexual coercion.

The overwhelming majority of these instances do not take place in dark bushes on campus, but in the victim's residence, and victims are far more likely to tell no one or to tell a friend than they are to ever make it as far as a victim help line.

While the Women's Safety Committee certainly recognizes the value of lighting improvements and allocated $38,000 this year alone to blue light phones and lighting improvements, lighting alone would fail to address the remaining 98 per cent of the sexual assault problem that exists within the walls of our buildings.

Paper cubes may not be as immutable as light poles, but they do what lighting improvements cannot – reach inside the residences of first-year students to raise awareness of sexual assaults where they are actually taking place.

The hope is that $9,000 worth of awareness will help prevent rapes from ever happening – a priceless improvement to the lives of our students.

Nicole Nelson
University Students' Council VP-campus issues

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