Editor, Daily Nexus,

A host of purple posts have sprouted between campaign signs. There are five hundred of them, each representing a sexual assault that occurs in our community every year. That’s right: five fucking hundred.

This is a conservative estimate. An average of twenty-five reported sexual assaults have been documented in recent annual UCSB Clery Reports, taking both Isla Vista and the campus into account. Since anonymous surveys have found that less than five percent of all sexual assaults are reported to authorities, a little math shows us that approximately five hundred really take place in our community every year.

But the exact number is somewhat irrelevant. One sexual assault is one too many, and five hundred is appalling. Look at those posts and visualize the people whose lives each assault has affected. Think about the trauma that each man or woman has endured, the violation of body, mind and dignity that they have experienced. And yes, men are survivors of sexual assault as well – about ten percent of them as a matter of fact – although such assaults are reported even less often. And guess what: you know someone who has been sexually assaulted. Since statistics show that one in four college-aged women has either been raped or has experienced an attempted rape, you must know one of these women. As the “It Affects Me” T-shirts testified last week, sexual assault affects everyone.

As the name implies, Take Back the Night was originally intended to protest the climate of violence and fear that women live in. However, we know now that 86 percent of sexual assaults nationwide are actually perpetrated by someone the survivor knows. On this campus, the survivor is acquainted with the person who assaulted him or her in about ninety-eight percent of sexual assaults. Regardless, women should be able to live freely without the fear of sexual assault.

Sexual assault is an unfortunate and prevalent reality in this community. Join us in our week of events to combat sexual assault through education, empowerment and protest.