By Noor Asif '16Staff Writer
This artilce may be triggering for survivors of sexual assault and/or harassment.
The Claremont Colleges are generally perceived to be a safe environment for every individual, regardless of gender, sexual preference, race, and more. In recent weeks, however, this perception has been challenged by a series of notifications circulating through email regarding episodes of sexual assault at 5C parties.
One of the incidents occurred at Pub, the event most closely tied to the occurrence of sexual assault due to its dark, cramped venue in the basement of the Coop at Dom’s Lounge. Pub has been known to have a “rapey” feel; there is a lot of unwanted touching, groping, and grinding that occurs on the tight, poorly lit dance floor. On Sept. 18, a male student sexually assaulted a female student at Pub, according to one of the emails that campus safety sent out. This is just one reported incident; many other unreported incidents have possibly occurred as well. This event caused Pub to be cancelled until further investigation deems it safe enough to reopen to the students. This is not the first time Pub has been cancelled; last year towards the end of the semester, Pub was not only cancelled for a week, but was also altered in order to increase security by keeping the lights on during the party. However, a Pub with lights on just isn’t the same Pub, and dancing in the dark is more comfortable for many students. It is difficult to find a balance between maintaining the feel of a club and providing a safe environment for all students in order to prevent incidents of sexual assault from occurring.
Another one of the incidents occurred at the 6:01 party earlier in the semester, in which a female student sexually assaulted a male student. She had reportedly offered to take care of him when he left the party heavily intoxicated, but then assaulted him even after he said no. It is disturbing to think that incidents of sexual assault can occur so early in the year, at the first big 5C party, and, more alarmingly, to someone who cannot take care of themselves due to alcohol by someone who had previously aided them.
One other incident involved a male student from USC sexually assaulting a female student from one of the Claremont Colleges at Toga. USC has been known to be a “party school,” a term with mixed connotations. Frat parties have a reputation of being non-conducive to consent culture, to put it lightly.
The USC administration recently forwarded an email to its students about 16 cases which have emerged since the start of the semester regarding sexual assault, yet the administration itself is being investigate to see if there are any more cases which either have not been officially reported or else have been neglected.
USC and the Claremont Colleges are extremely different in terms of culture, location, student body size, and attitudes toward consent culture. It is important to remember that our proximity to USC means students from Claremont and USC will inevitably interact at parties and other social events. Officals on multiple 5C campuses have moved to limit the type of guests that are allowed into 5C parties and make hosts of guests from other non-5C campuses more accountable.
Staying safe is really the most important thing when going to a party along with having fun, so it is important to follow the campus safety tips that are attached to these emails. They encouraging students to walk in pairs at night, to make sure that friends are leaving the parties with reliable people, and to trust one’s instincts if sometimes does not feel quite right in any situation.