Tuesday, October 07, 2008

San Diego Sig Eps Hear Rape Presentation

'Bystander effect' addressed
Fraternities listen to info about rape and how to help a victim
Bill Crotty, staff writer

Ninety percent of sexual assaults in the San Diego State area are not committed by a masked stranger in a dark alley, but by someone already acquainted with the victim. This was one of several major points hammered out last Tuesday during a presentation at Sigma Phi Epsilon.

The presentation was given by Kat Wagner, who works with the Center for Community Solutions, and Angela Geisler, the deputy city attorney in the San Diego City Attorney’s Office. Wagner and Geisler have been giving these presentations about the “bystander effect” since April.

The “bystander effect” is quite literally people standing around not helping a victim during an incident of rape or sexual assault, they said.

“Sex is defined as any form of penetration,” Wagner said. “And rape is defined by whether or not there was consent.”

While this seems like an obvious statement, “consent” really is not very simple.

Anyone who has been drinking or has taken any drug that affects their state of mind cannot really make an informed decision, nor give consent, Geisler and Wagner said.

“If someone is under the influence of any mind-altering drug, then just don’t do it,” Wagner said.

“Any” drug is not an exaggeration either. Many over-the-counter drugs, and illegal ones like marijuana, can be considered to have a mind-altering effect on someone’s state of mind. The primary drug of choice though is alcohol.

“Ninety-five percent of incidents involve alcohol in the SDSU area, but the national average is 85 percent,” Wagner said.

One audience member brought how accusations, which may be false, can be damaging to an entire fraternity. The number of false accusations for rape is the same as false accusations for other crimes, which several audience members seemed surprised to hear.

The statistics regarding rape are staggering; 84 percent of men who commit rape have said it wasn’t a rape, but only two percent of them are actually false accusations according to Wagner.

“Many offenders just don’t know what constitutes rape,” she said.

During the presentation at Sig Ep, several stories were told and videos from some victims were shown. One incident Wagner talked about involved a girl being assaulted by three men in a dorm room with people walking by who could easily have stopped it and didn’t. The incident did not end until someone realized it was a girl they knew.

Erasing the phenomenon of people only intervening on sexual assault for a friend was one of the goals of the “No Bystander” presentation.

When it was all over, Lizeth Romo, a criminal justice senior at SDSU commented, “It was very helpful, and the presentation was a great way to consider the problem, and what rape is.

“I know people that have not reported (a rape or sexual assault incident) and should.”

Wagner is very proud of her job of helping people through her work.

“I get to help people all day long with this, it’s an extremely rewarding experience.”

Anyone can apply to volunteer at CCS by calling (760) 747-6282, and more general information about the subject can be found at www.CCSSD.org.