We Didn’t Come To USC To Be Raped.

We agreed to a lot in order to become USC Trojans. Sexual assault wasn’t one of those things.

By Melanie Vera

The only way to calm my nerves the nights before my SAT exams was to binge watch “I’m Shmacked” college videos. Their goal was to film the wildest college parties and share it with the students actively deciding what colleges they’d attend.

They were 21st century public service announcements at their finest and for my future fellow Trojans and me, these videos motivated us to study and cram and turn down high school parties in hopes the people we met on our future college campus would become our friends for life.

So while we waited for our acceptances, we researched USC’s college rankings. We went as far as forgiving them for ranking under Ivy Leagues. We did this because we craved becoming Trojans. While we waited, we convinced our parents to let us to move to one of the busiest, and sometimes most dangerous cities in the country. We did this because we believed we were born to be Trojans. And once the acceptance letters stumbled in throughout late March, everything we looked forward to was realized.

We became faithful.

We became scholarly.

We became skillful.

And, we breathed in daily ambition.

We were Trojans.

But then we feel the first set of clammy hands and smelled the alcohol-stained breath that lingers on our skins the day after the incident. And the next day, assaulted girls fit themselves into flowery sundresses and assaulted boys dress up in powerful suits, the sour aftertaste of that night still present. It tastes like defeat and shame and shit, and suddenly, being a Trojan isn’t enough to justify what happened.

That’s when we found the courage to admit what we were all thinking: We didn’t apply to be raped.

According to a survey from the Associate of American Universities that garnered 150,000 responses from twenty-seven universities, more than one in five female undergraduates at top colleges have disclosed that they have been victims of rape, sexual assault and other forms of sexual misconduct. One of the twenty-seven universities was our home: USC.

Suddenly, our university’s typically boastful character transformed into a disadvantage. While only nineteen percent of USC students responded to the survey, USC stole the show and tied for number one, with thirty percent of undergraduate women saying they were victims of non-consensual sexual contact through force or in situations when they were unable to offer consent. Among undergraduate men, the rate was seven percent.

USC, along with most other universities, has a problem. We never applied to be raped. We applied to live in a community of intelligent, mindful and kind college students.

We didn’t apply to fear going to class, the dining hall or even the library, in case we ran into our assailant. We didn’t apply to hear our roommate cry her or himself to sleep. We didn’t apply to pick up the emotional pieces of our “bigs” or “littles.”

It’s been a long time since this started, and we Trojans understand this is enough. When one of our fellow Trojans is raped, we all are, and we should never agree to this.

Reach Contributor Melanie Vera here, or follow her on Twitter.

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