“As a member of the Notre Dame community, I pledge to stand up to prevent instances of sexual violence, to speak out against language that trivializes sexual violence, and to support survivors in the process of healing. I pledge to be a positive force within our Notre Dame family, because when it comes to cases of sexual violence, one is too many.”—“One is Too Many” pledge.
As the “One is Too Many” Campaign spreads like wildfire across campus, more and more dorm room doors display the official pledge card. An initiative by Student Government, the campaign addresses the poignant topic of sexual violence on campus.
Though most students appear to be embracing the campaign, many say that signing a pledge card is not enough to eradicate the problem of sexual violence on campus.
“I think that the complete elimination of sexual violence is a heavy goal, but I think raising awareness by emphasizing the importance of speaking up and the fact that even the little acts matter is a great first step,” says Shannon Montague, a sophomore in Pasquerilla West.
“Signing the pledge doesn’t mean anything. It’s a piece of paper. No one is held accountable by it,” argues freshman Jade Jennings. Jennings, like many others, stresses the importance of education, saying, “I think we should have more workshops and meetings. We should teach people what sexual assault actually means.”
When asked for potential solutions to the sexual violence problem on campus, education and intolerance of assault were students’ top answers.
“I think promoting a general attitude of awareness and disdain for this type of activity would help. Everyone is subject to peer pressure, and if people feel pressure or an expectation from others not to participate in sexual violence, the frequency of this type of act will decrease,” says Brendan Galloway, a Siegfried freshman.
However, these solutions rely more on preventing certain types of behavior without necessarily addressing their underlying causes.
According to students and statistics both, the main influencing factor behind sexual violence is, by far, alcohol consumption.
According the Office of Alcohol and Drug education, approximately 75 percent of men and 55 percent of women involved in a sexually violent incident were drinking at the time.
Sister Mary Jane Hahner, rector of Pasquerilla West Hall, thinks that those figures are even higher on Notre Dame’s campus. In her experience, practically every case of sexual assault on campus has involved alcohol in some capacity.
Students also suggest that perhaps ignorance and residential loyalty likewise fueled the problem.
Kevin Thompson, a St. Edward’s Hall freshman, explains: “[T]here seems to be sort of an unfortunate division of loyalties at parties. That is to say, guys and girls feel responsible for their fellow dorm-mates, and try to keep them out of trouble, but they don’t seem to apply this sense of ‘community’ to the student body as a whole…[Students] don’t feel as connected or protective of members of the opposite sex as they do their hall-mates.” He adds that students need to be more willing to stand up for and defend a stranger, even if it means embarrassing a friend.
Some students also raised the concern that ignorance fueled sexual assaults. Whether it be inexperience in relationships or thinking that Notre Dame is immune to such dark problems, many students do not understand the seriousness of sexual assault.
A fair number of students report that they do not understand what actions qualify as sexual violence. Nor do they realize that they may have participated in or been victim to it. Seventy percent of such sexual assaults are committed by acquaintances.
As the pledge suggests, language is also important when considering solutions to this problem, and everyone needs to speak out against crude and insensitive language.
“It’s a hard thing to really get the point across about. It’s not even just the jokes that people still seem to be okay with making about rape and molestation and harassment, but also the way people talk about their weekends. The attitude is sometimes decisively congratulatory, in connection to someone’s tale of their liquor-induced conquest, and that’s really frustrating,” adds Thompson.
“One is too many and for this campaign to work successfully, everyone needs to acknowledge responsibility and work to foster an environment where we as students can live together, have fun together and stay safe together,” says Steve Santay, a senior.
Meadow Jackson is a freshman French major in Pasquerilla West. If you have any questions, comments or random trivia that you would like to share with her, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.