Editorial Board | April 19, 2013, 4:32 p.m.
In recent weeks, Pomona College’s Kappa Delta (KD) fraternity has been working with the Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault to change the environment at its weekly PUB party after leaders of student groups identified PUB as a place where sexual assault occurs. This Editorial Board encourages college and student leaders alike to recognize that PUB is not the only party where such an environment exists and to make a concerted effort to also address the root of the problem of sexual assault, rather than just a situation that manifests it.
Discontinuing PUB won’t reach to the bottom of the issue of sexual violence on the 5Cs. Keeping the dance better lit helps, but not if it is a solution isolated to one campus event. The 5C student population needs increased and continual education about consent and the nature of sexual assault. Most first-years don’t arrive at Pomona assuming that there is anything wrong with approaching someone at PUB and grinding on them without permission. We have been socialized since middle school that such actions are standard and appropriate dance floor behaviors. When that mindset isn’t actively changed at places like Pomona, it continues to pervade nightclubs and similar dance venues throughout people’s lives.
KD has dealt with questions and challenges to PUB’s atmosphere in a responsible manner by opening lines of communication and forums for students, but this type of discourse must continue from first year through senior year and reach a wider audience. Most 5C dance parties, including ones that occur just once a year, foster a similar environment to PUB. Changing the “grinding” culture will take more than cancellations or changes in lighting for one prominent weekly event.
In order to create a safe and fun environment for all students at all parties, alcohol education must continue along with discussions to increase awareness about sexual assault issues. Neither the Advocates, KD, nor those groups’ college advisors should have to be the only ones leading or participating in such efforts. Although it is imperative to continue scrutinizing the environment of sexual assault that often pervades grinding and hook-up culture at the 5Cs, cancellation of a few parties is not the best answer. Rather, thorough education should keep students actively aware of sexual assault-related issues that are often unknown to incoming college first-years and much of society at large.