Editor, Daily Nexus,
Every April for the last six years, Students Stopping Rape, Men Against Rape and several other organizations have jointly hosted a weeklong campaign against sexual violence. Through this campaign, members of these organizations hope to educate UCSB and surrounding communities on how to prevent, create awareness and facilitate discussion about sexual violence. The campaign encourages members of this community to recognize how sexual violence affects all of us. The campaign is called It Affects Me.
As the Nexus reported, at Wednesday’s Legislative Council meeting several students protested Associated Students and the recent Students’ Initiative fee increase. One student, Eva Kilamyan, carried a sign that read “Financial Rape: It Affects Me.”
Now I can understand why students like Kilamyan might be upset about the fee increase. What I do not understand is how Kilamyan can liken a fee increase to rape. I do not understand how anyone can liken something like a fee increase, a difficult test or a head cold to a violent and often life-changing crime like rape.
I am not a survivor of rape. I cannot and would never claim to know what it feels like to be a survivor of rape. I also cannot claim to know what it feels like to survive rape and then have to listen to, or see, others compare my experience to much more trivial events. I can imagine that this would be very painful.
On a college campus, it is estimated that one out of every four women are survivors of rape or attempted rape. This overwhelming number means that there are survivors all around us – in our classes, in our residence hall floors and at our A.S. meetings. Because of this fact, I am writing to encourage individuals who make statements like Kilamyan’s to think about what they are truly saying when they compare trivial experiences or events to acts of sexual violence. I am writing to encourage others to be more sensitive to the feelings of those around them. Finally, I am writing to encourage all of us to choose our words more carefully because we never fully know the experiences of those around us.