There is no denying that sexual assault is a prominent issue on Elon University's campus. 

Though many students recognize the fact that sexual assault is immoral, it is still happening, and no one wants to take responsibility for this problem. This isn't only an issue on our campus, but one that is affecting campuses and making headlines nation-wide.  Too often, students will look to the university to host more events or create more policies to combat the issue of sexual assault on our campus. But, a culture is created by the people within it. The tolerance and ignorance surrounding sexual assault exists within and is perpetuated by our student body.

The university itself, along with many student-run organizations, is already doing a lot to educate students about consent and help survivors of sexual assault. Before coming to campus, all Elon students, including those enrolled in graduate programs, are required to complete Haven – Understanding Sexual Assault, an interactive online sexual assault prevention and education program. 

In this past month alone, there were multiple forums across campus addressing this issue. Just last week, a number of student organizations co-hosted the Walk Against Victim Blaming. The following day, another student hosted a forum about cat-calling on campus. Just a few weeks before, SGA hosted a Town Hall on sexual assault and SPARKS hosted Take Back the Night. 

Events like these are happening constantly on our campus and they are crucial to starting conversations and supporting survivors. The administration and student organizations are doing what they can to get students talking about sexual assault, but, at the end of the day, the problem lies with the students.

Elon’s senior staff and other administrators are not the people witnessing acts of sexual violence at parties. They are not often walking the streets where verbal harassment occurs — Elon students are the ones witnessing these injustices occur.

If students are not attending these events and taking them seriously, then they will not learn how to speak up and protect other students. Those students who take the time to attend these events and learn from professionals trained in this area will be better prepared to act in instances of sexual violence.

If Elon students do not make a constant effort to combat or understand the culture of sexual assault on our campus, then it will remain. Telling ourselves that sexual assault is not a problem will not make it go away — choosing to ignore the issue only keeps us from understanding the complexity of it, which then keeps us from fighting it. 

Because Elon students are the people directly affected by sexual assault on campus, they need to know how to respond in effective way, both when they directly witness a questionable act and when someone comes to them to share their story. Not acting makes just as much of an impact as acting. The best way to learn is to engage in dialogue and listen.

This is being taught and addressed in the different programs Elon has to offer, but these conversations need to be continued and spread across all parts of campus to have a real effect. Attend these events on campus to start, but do not let your engagement end there.