Sept. 5, 2012
When I first began pursuit of a higher education in the “Old West” of eastern Montana, bordering the now infamously lawless Bakken Oil Field, I went to a party in the dorms. Regrettably, as many of us have done, I imbibed more than I intended, said things I shouldn’t have to the basketball team, who proceeded to “educate” me by literally kicking my face in. Looking back, I agree with University of Montana President Royce Engstrom’s recent statement that education is the primary weapon against assault, after all, how else would I have learned to be responsible for my actions at all times to prevent further assaults? But Engtrom’s “lessons” for University of Montana students are even more brutal than those taught me by the basketball team.
After the Department of Education’s “Dear Colleague” letter “increased expectations” for the University of Montana sexual assault policies, Engtrom began a sexual assault project, ordering it carry an emphasis on 911 calls and all employees must report any sexual assault within Montana’s ten-year Statute of Limitations; he continues;
“The Student Conduct Code will also now reflect the direction of the Dear Colleague letter that a “preponderance of evidence” apply to alleged sexual assaults processed through the Student Conduct Code, a lesser standard than the “clear and convincing” standard previously required.”
Also part of sexual assault project is a campaign all students must watch to continue schooling titled “Personal Empowerment Through Self Awareness” (PETSA) that I recently had the opportunity to observe. The series informs us that individuals are unable to consent due to alcohol, drugs, deception, coercion, or surprise, that four out of five rapists are known, like a boyfriend, who intentionally select prey who are vulnerable; bystanders are instructed to intervene if an intoxicated couple is heading upstairs by simply stating “That’s not cool bro…don’t be an idiot!” The “Myth of False Reporting” is also established and, lastly, women are told “Its not your fault, you are not responsible for the actions of others…the drunken perpetrator is responsible.”
As you can imagine, after receiving all this information, my mind was rife with questions so I contacted the head of the PETSA. When I began speaking with Ms. Wosniak, I met with defiance from the start, as I often do, by individuals whose emotions compel them to reject any discussion of the issue as an attack. We did successfully established that false reporting of abuse is certainly not a myth. When I suggested implementing Blackstone’s Theory to our discussion, the foundation of the United States Constitution which states, better ten guilty go free than to imprison one innocent, Ms. Wosniak responded shrieking “SET TEN FREE FOR ONE INNOCENT?”
Certain the discussion was going nowhere, I thanked her and excused myself. Since, I have contacted Engstrom in hopes of a more fruitful discussion on honestly educating all students to best eliminate all violence from the campus and community, why only focus on sexual assault? And why refer to “the perpetrator” when it is obviously “the penetrator” who is the target?
Teaching women they are powerless creatures to be “preyed” by the men they trust most is certainly not progressive to a stable community; a society driven by knowledge rather than fear, free of societal ills such as sexual assault I thought to be the directive. Or perhaps the “Miss Representation” campaign also recently implemented at U of M to “Help women see themselves as leaders” is the true goal? When corrupting the minds of youth with perverse, distorted information in an attempt to “educate” them, it is foolish to expect anything but misrepresentation from these future leaders.