Women’s issues exist everywhere


Photo by Michaela Nees

(From left to right) Skye Fuller, a junior public relations and advertising major, Jordan Teusch, a junior business administration major, Lily Hubbard, a freshman graphic design major and Hanoo Alqahtani, a senior international graduate business administration major, holding hands on campus and taking pride in their femininity. The four women participated in a photo shoot for the print issue “Women of USI” on March 15.

Fallon Heady, Staff Writer

My first week at USI was a blur of campus activities and new friends, but there is one moment that I will never forget. I was sitting in my dorm, surrounded by faces that were just becoming familiar, when we somehow got on the topic of sexual assault.

My roommate asked the seven girls lounging in our room if any of them had been assaulted. I cannot forget the sensation of my heart dropping as every single one of us raised our hands in silence. 

One out of six American women are survivors of an attempted or completed rape, according to Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, around 43% of the 28,500 reported criminal cases against people and property on college campuses in 2018 were for forcible sex offenses.  

Safety issues for women exist everywhere, even on our campus.

According to the Public Safety crime log, there was one reported rape, one case of harassment and a report of stalking from Jan. 23 to Feb. 23, 2022. USI could be safer. 

“Public Safety’s emergency number sometimes doesn’t pick up,” Elizabeth Bowers, senior communication studies major, said. “USI always advertises if you need an escort home, you can call Public Safety, but what are you supposed to do if they aren’t picking up?”

The university does offer the RAVE Guardian app, which has a feature that allows you to hold down a button if you feel unsafe and will track your location, but walking home at night can be eerie when surrounded by out-of-order emergency poles with stickers slapped on them telling us to call Public Safety. 

Students are encouraged to complete sexual assault prevention training modules through Everfi, a digital lesson platform. Unlike the alcohol education modules the university requires all first-year undergraduates to complete, the sexual assault prevention training is optional. 

Knowing what consent means is just as important as knowing how much alcohol is in a standard drink.

“It’s probably something that should be required in a UNIV course, where everybody has to sit through it and discuss it,” said Denise Lynn, history professor and director of gender and Africana studies. 

Sexual assault is not strictly a women’s issue. According to RAINN, one out of every ten rape survivor is male. 

Women’s issues are not solely safety, they persist even in classrooms. 

When I first told my peers and family I was going to get a business degree, I was met with a chorus of “are you sure you want to go into such a male dominated field?” 

Of course, I responded with some off-hand feminist remark and said I was just as capable as my male counterparts, but walking into a classroom filled with men is still intimidating. 

“When you look around the room and you see everyone else in that room is male, all of a sudden you feel like whew, I don’t fit in here, I don’t belong,” said Julie Eyink, associate professor of psychology. “It’s a really threatening experience.”

Women, especially those with power, face more than just perceived threats or classroom anxiety.

“As a woman in power, your authority on different issues is questioned a lot,” said Anna Ardelean, Student Government Association president. “Getting spoken over, getting explained to, getting talked down to.”

“It comes from all angles, from everyone, and so you have to work extra hard to command the space that you hold,” Ardelean said. “Look inward, know that you deserve to be here. You are just as qualified as any man would ever be.” 

Lynn said a major issue affecting not only our campus, but the entire nation, is maternity and paternity leave. According to the university handbook, “Parents are entitled to a combined total of ten working days of paid parental leave.”

“Everybody is supposed to have FMLA leave, but they have to have worked at the place for a year, and you don’t necessarily get paid for it,” Lynn said. “I know people who’ve used all their sick time for it. I know people who were denied leave because their contract was just under a year.”

According to Family Doctor, “Fully recovering from pregnancy and childbirth can take months. While many women feel mostly recovered by 6-8 weeks, it may take longer than this to feel like yourself again.” 

Women’s issues are your issues too.

Regardless of your gender, sexual orientation, political ideologies or religious beliefs, there are women in your life who deserve equality, equity and safety.  

Steven Williams, associate professor of sociology, said the men on campus should not get caught up in a narrow view of masculinity. 

“Gender relations are not a zero-sum game,” Williams said. “Gains for women are not losses for men. They are ultimately gains for humanity.”