The other “Freshman 15”

Bobbie Szabo

Everyone knows college students gain an average of 15 pounds during their first year.

In recent years, though, it seems as though the idea of the “Freshman 15” has lost its validity due to the individualized nature of body weight. The truth is that this mythical weight gain does not affect a large percentage of college students, and it does not affect each college student equally.

There is, however, a “Freshman 15” that affects every college student no matter who the student is or where the student attends college: sexual assault.

A study from the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs stated that 15 percent of female-identifying college freshman are sexually assaulted while under the influence of mind-altering substances.

As stated by Kent State’s policy, sexual assault is “a form of sexual misconduct” defined as “any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any body part or object, by a person upon a person, that is without consent.”

Consent, on the other hand, “is defined as the voluntary, unambiguous agreement to participate in an act, the nature of which is known to and understood by the consenter.”

This means an individual cannot give consent if they are under the influence of mind-altering substances like drugs and alcohol, are under the age of consent, feel threatened or are incapacitated by any other mental or physical means.

Take into consideration the fact that, according to the Association of American Universities, 27.2 percent of female-identifying college students experience sexual assault before graduation.

These statistics do not include male-identifying students or students who identify as transgender, meaning more than one-third of college students experience sexual assault during their time at a college or university.

The statistics are staggering. It seems like no college students in the nation can pursue higher education without being affected by sexual assault or other forms of power-based personal violence such as stalking or domestic abuse.

If a student has not personally experienced sexual assault, they certainly know someone who has. This is an outrage, and no one seems to be talking about it.

Kent State has some support systems in place for survivors of these violent situations, as well as prevention programs aimed at making campuses a safer place.

The Office of Sexual and Relationship Violence Support Services offers a world of help to any individual affected by sexual assault and related issues, including Green Dot bystander awareness training.

Green Dot training teaches students and faculty how to prevent power-based personal violence from occurring. The basic concept of the training is if a person sees something, they should stop it.

Next time you hear someone talking about gaining weight during college, make sure they know about the “Other Freshman 15.” The less we talk about these problems, the less likely they are to be fixed.

Attend a Green Dot training. Practice bystander awareness. Intervene in questionable situations or find someone of authority to intervene if you are not comfortable doing so yourself. Make sure all of your sexual partners consent to anything and everything you do.

If everyone is doing everything they can to help, we can make Kent State a safer place.