Diving Into Wellness

A recurring column exploring various statistics related to sexual wellness, mental health, and substance use at Colorado College, brought to you by the Wellness Resource Center.

31 percent.

This is the percentage of Colorado College students that responded agreeing to the statement, “I believe that the number of sexual assaults that occur on campus, off campus at an event or program connected with Colorado College, or at a social activity or party near campus is low” on the HEDS National Campus Climate Assessment Survey. Less than a third of our students perceive sexual assault incidents to be low. Of course, there is some ambiguity to this question—low in comparison to what?

In some ways, this statistic is relieving. We know that national rates of sexual assault are unacceptably high across the country, and it is important that CC students recognize that our campus is not immune to the epidemic that is gender violence.

However, 83 percent of students responding to the survey said they agree with the statement, “I feel safe on campus.” This reveals a disturbing contradiction. Students perceive a significant risk of sexual assault on campus, yet also feel safe. This contradiction shows how imprecise we are in our collective definition of safety, and reveals the way we continue to trivialize gender violence. Awareness of gender violence is clearly growing both nationally and on campus, but this finding indicates that we continue to undermine the threat that sexual assault poses to our physical and emotional wellbeing.

By failing to acknowledge gender violence as a threat to our safety, we also dismiss the trauma of those who have experienced gender violence. This is a clear example of a continuum of violence that upholds rape culture. Subconsciously, we continue to hold attitudes about sexual assault that allow it to seem normal. 67 percent of students responding to the HEDS survey indicated that they felt they or their friends were at risk for being sexually assaulted. Why does that acknowledgement of risk fail to shake our perception of safety?

The HEDS survey was distributed to the entire student body last spring. Unfortunately, CC did not receive a representative sample and therefore must draw conclusions with caution, but with that in mind, the data may still offer interesting insights into CC’s sexual climate. This column, in upcoming weeks, will draw from the HEDS Survey, the National Health Assessment Survey, and the Healthy Minds Survey to dive into topics surrounding holistic wellness at CC.

Twice a block, we will focus on one data point and attempt to draw out the implications it holds for CC campus life. We will explore sexual wellness, mental health, and substance use at CC, as well as how these topics influence one another.

If you have a wellness topic you would like us to address, please do not hesitate to reach out. Please email News editor Abby Williams at ab_williams@coloradocollege.edu for more information.

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