Views expressed in opinion columns are the author's own.
When the news broke that Harvey Weinstein is a career pervert, I wasn't surprised. None of the women I talked to were, either. None of my friends or family were, and neither was a female professor.
As women, the pervasiveness of sexual assault is anything but surprising — it's rather ordinary, actually. Expected, par for the course. The fact that women have become accustomed to incidents like this, whether by a prominent public figure like Weinstein or in their day-to-day lives, speaks volumes about our failure to discuss sexual assault.
On this campus, we sometimes hear talk of rape culture, Title IX, sexual misconduct and assault. A lot of people probably think we talk about the issues revolving around sexual assault enough, or perhaps even too much. But behavior like Weinstein's continues to occur throughout the United States, even within industries that rely heavily on women to make a profit. Are we really talking about it enough?
If we take a step back from Hollywood, we see sexual assault plaguing other job sectors as well. The military has a notoriously high incidence of sexual assault, with fiscal year 2016 seeing "6,172 reports of sexual assault involving Service members as either victims or subjects," with "female Service members [reporting] sexual assault at a rate two and a half times greater than male Service member victims."
Even government-run entities such as the military aren't exempt from sexual assault and misconduct. This issue isn't exclusive to "vapid" Hollywood or "snowflake-heavy" college campuses. It pervades the entire country, even our armed forces. And let us not forget that our very own commander in chief has bragged on tape about committing sexual assault. This isn't just an issue to be remedied through careful steps; it's a societal disease that infects all facets of our culture.
What this all comes down to is education. If women are largely unsurprised by sexual assault, then why is it still happening on such a large scale? Why do the Harvey Weinsteins of the world still feel permitted to continue on with these deplorable actions?
In April 2017, university President Wallace Loh "approved recommendations provided by his sexual assault prevention task force for how to continue addressing the issue on the campus." These recommendations include bystander intervention training for incoming students, a resource website by 2018 and several other initiatives. All these steps move our community in the right direction, but so much more can be done.
College isn't just about the material you learn from coursework, but also the informal education you receive from your peers. We can only rely so heavily on administrative steps to guide our conversations about sexual assault.
What we need to do now is talk about sexual assault by bringing it into our day-to-day conversations. Talk about what's happening in the news with your peers; ask both men and women what they think and how they feel. Just discuss it. This is the piece of the puzzle that's missing, the part that has been so long neglected and which has only perpetuated a culture of silence. Sexual assault isn't easy to talk about, but ignoring it will only lead to more tragic and preventable crimes.
Caitlin McCann is a sophomore communication major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.