High-risk alcohol use and sexual assault are issues that face educational institutions nationwide. Here at Dartmouth, President Hanlon has charged our community to work together to end high-risk and harmful behavior on campus.
–Dartmouth email to parents of incoming freshmen
Are you enraged yet? Dartmouth has been under fire for tolerating sexual violence on campus and failing to support survivors. Despite promises to shape up and a big PR stunt in the form of a campus sexual assault conference, it looks like Dartmouth hasn’t learned its lesson.
Great that you want to stops sexual violence, and great that you want to stop dangerous drinking habits. But conflating the two only perpetuates the myths that 1) all campus violence follows the “drunk girl at the party” narrative, which it absolutely doesn’t and 2) the key to stopping sexual violence is stopping binge drinking, not stopping rapists.
This email goes beyond the Emily Yoffe ”debate” about whether alcohol education stops violence — a conversation I’m frankly sick of having. Here, Dartmouth not only connects the two problems but reduces them to one another, just two sides of the “high-risk and harmful” coin. As the school explains, they don’t see two separate problems but a unified set of efforts to “reduce dangerous alcohol use and prevent sexual assault.”
When we accept the comfortable but oversimplified narrative that sexual assault is a problem of college kids with stupid drinking habits, we put blinders on, willfully obscuring the range of forms violence takes and the complexity of its causes. We elide systemic roots and institutional responsibility. We elide reality. And students’ safety — in their dorms, in the lab, at the hands of their partners, and, yes, at parties — depend on us doing better than that.