Pictured Above: The flyer for James Is Dead is displayed so students can watch the video. (Photography by Tessa Castor/ Staff Reporter)
One in five college students will be sexually assaulted.
This statistic was indirectly shown during residence life’s latest event, “James is Dead.” The event, featuring a video about victim blaming, took place during lunch on Tuesday in Java Jinx. Students watching the video were given body wash and stickers.
As part of National Campus Safety Awareness Month, student affairs will host a variety of events for students, ranging from bingo to Builder Alert signups next week.
Dan Falk, vice president for student affairs, said that events like the “James is Dead” video are a great way to inform and educate students of campus safety. The video references the murder of James, a victim who had been wearing a low-cut shirt, had been drinking and was overly friendly. The murder and its response serve as a metaphor for sexual assault.
“Our goals are to educate students on the misconceptions of sexual assault victims,” said Falk. “This video parallels the same victim blaming that occurs during sexual assault.”
Falk said that the video’s humor comes from it touching all aspects of victim blaming. He said the college hopes to protect and inform students, teaching them to make good decisions and be aware of their surroundings.
“Our importance is helping support students and teaching students about caring for each other,” said Falk. “It’s what we call pro-social bystanders, that they can make a difference.”
The core of residence life is to build community, said Falk. By building community, residence life hopes to have students who understand and communicate with one another.
“I personally think residence life is the foundation for the Builder family,” said Falk.
In moving forward, Falk said student affairs would like to collaborate with other programs on campus to grow safety events. He said he wants students to know that student affairs is there for them in situations like sexual assault, encouraging students to help others when they see a problem. Helping other students can be as much as bringing a concern up to student affairs, said Falk.
“Don’t keep it to yourself,” said Falk. “You don’t want a fellow family member to suffer when they don’t have to. Student affairs is more concerned with student safety than student conduct. That means we’ll let certain actions or situations go if that means helping a student.”
Residence life’s video event also mentions the importance of bystander intervention, as the characters in the video mention that witnesses had seen James’ murder. Marcus Richard, political science freshman, said that the video taught him more about bystander intervention.
“Even bystanders can interfere and make sure bad things don’t happen,” said Richard. “Everybody should feel safe while they’re on or off campus.”
Richard said that the one in five statistic was the most surprising thing he learned during the video. He said that the video was both educational and funny.
“It educated people who don’t know that sexual assault is a huge offense and that it shouldn’t be anywhere on campus,” said Richard. “I watched the video to get the sticker and Old Spice, but I watched it too because it’s a funny twist on a serious matter.”
Cameron Goodrich, biology freshman, was one of the first students to watch residence life’s video. Until the metaphor was explained, Goodrich admitted he didn’t understand the meaning of the video. Goodrich said he was in Java Jinx coincidentally as the video began.
After thinking on the true meaning of the video, Goodrich said the video may have confused him because the victim was a male, not a female.
“I would not have considered myself stereotypical,” said Goodrich. “But maybe I am just a bit. The usage of metaphor kind of caught me off-guard.”
Goodrich said that campus safety is vital for students’ learning.
“If you don’t feel safe, you can’t learn anything,” said Goodrich. “Safety is important because we have to rely on each other. Obviously, we’re a small school, so being able to know and trust everyone is very important.”
Next Monday and Tuesday, students can sign up for Builder Alerts. Builder Alerts are text messages that notify students of safety concerns.
Those who missed the residence life video on Tuesday can watch it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Op14XhETfBw.
Tessa Castor is a sophomore majoring in English. You may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.