Over Little 500 weekend, a total of four rapes were reported in Bloomington. One of these involved a student being held down by two men while a third raped her in the street, according to an IU Police Department press release.
In the six months leading up to this year’s Little 500 weekend, IUPD received reports of 88 complaints of harassment or intimidation, 54 reports of assaults, seven complaints of suspicious people or vehicles, four forcible fondlings and five rapes, according to a recent article from the Indiana Daily Student.
Upon hearing this news, Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault co-director Alec Raich said he felt a mix of fear, sadness and anger. He said he was concerned about the safety of his friends on campus.
“It makes me want to work harder to fight against stuff like this on campus,” Raich said.
MARS is a student-led organization mostly made up of members of the Interfraternity Council, with the goal of raising awareness of and bettering education on sexual violence on campus.
For the past two semesters, MARS has put on the BannerUp campaign. Members made large banners with messages written on them to promote sexual assault prevention.
Despite the efforts of MARS, Raich said he believes more could be done to fight against sexual violence.
“It’s a scary reminder that there’s still a lot of work to be done on campus,” Raich said.
In order to help prevent more attacks in the future, Raich said he encourages women not to walk alone at night, especially when intoxicated.
However, Safe Sisters co-director Jordan Smith said she believes there has only been an increase in reports, not sexual assaults.
“My heart goes out to those victims,” Smith said. “However, I think it’s a great step in the right direction that they are comfortable with sharing that information.”
Like MARS, Safe Sisters is also an organization that spreads awareness of sexual assault and rape on campus. Smith said each Panhellenic Association chapter has their own Safe Sisters representative.
Every two to four weeks Safe Sisters has meetings where they discuss topics like sexual violence, consent and victim blaming. They also have guest speakers and collaborative meetings with MARS.
“No one in greek life supports rape and sexual assault,” Raich said.
One reason why Raich said he joined MARS was because he is against the stereotype of greek brothers being related to sexual violence.
“It’s a serious problem on campus, and I really want to help fight against it,” Raich said.
Instead of supporting greek stereotypes, Raich said he encourages others to discuss their concerns about sexual violence with members of the greek community.
“I encourage to come start a conversation with us, not a conversation against us,” Raich said.
Not avoiding conversations about sexual violence is the proper way to fight against its issues, Raich said.
“I think that’s a solution that can help not only IU, but the greater population,” Raich said.
Member of MARS are encouraged to be the go-to brother if a brother or friend are attacked, Raich said.
However, Raich said he believes it is difficult for men to come forward because of the gender roles surrounding men that expect them to be masculine. There is also the stereotype that men are not supposed to be raped.
People should believe victims when they come out that they have been assaulted, Smith said. She said she can’t understand why anyone would lie about being assaulted for attention.
“The key point to take home is to believe someone when they said they were assaulted,” Smith said.
When facing issues such as sexual violence, Smith said she encourages people to seek organizations like the Sexual Assault Crisis Service.
SACS is a 24-hour full-time service for survivors of sexual violence, SACS counselor Debbie Melloan said. The service is confidential and free of charge for students.
SACS also provides individual and group counseling for survivors of rape and sexual assault, Melloan said. The organization provides training and advising for MARS, Safe Sisters and Raising Awareness of Interactions in Sexual Encounters.
Victims of sexual assault or rape should do what is best for them in order to recover from their trauma, Melloan said.
Melloan said she believes students across campus should unify and fight the issue of sexual violence together.
“We should look out for one another and stand up against this violence as a community,” Melloan said.
Safe Sisters is made up of about 250 members, Smith said. She said this shows a step in the right direction, as well as that students are interested in these issues.
“Just the fact that we have that many shows that Panhellenic women are taking a stand against victim blaming, taking a stand against sexual assault and taking a stand against violence,” Smith said.