Last May, a list of 55 colleges and universities made headlines across the country and sparked a very important national discussion. The list was not pertaining to the top liberal arts colleges or the top party schools. Instead, it identified 55 prestigious universities and colleges that were under federal investigation regarding sexual assault.
Institutions such as Harvard, Princeton and Carnegie Mellon appeared on the list.
Since then, Obama launched the “1 is 2 many” campaign to help combat the growing problem of sexual assaults on college campuses. The campaign revealed that one in five women will be sexually assaulted while in college and even released a PSA featuring a handful of celebrities showing their support and spreading awareness.
According to a Huffington Post article published a few days ago, that list of 55 has been upped to 85 — adding to it Drake University and the California Institute of the Arts.
This is still a growing problem, and the media has still put much attention on it. However, the focus recently seems to be shifting from combatting this problem using education and PSAs to combatting it using nail polish and bracelets.
Back in August, a group of students from North Carolina State University developed a product called “Undercover Colors,” in an attempt to prevent sexual assaults. According to their Facebook page, the product is “the nail polish that changes color in the presence of date rape drugs.”
In other words, those who wear the nail polish can dip their fingers into the drinks they get at parties to make sure they are not drugged.
More recently, a group of students from the University of Wisconsin developed a wristband called “Vive” that can tell users when they are too drunk. According to an article in Elite Daily about the product, “it uses micro-sensors to track the body’s dehydration and intoxication levels.”
Users can also inform the wristband when they are out at a social function. This enables the product to check in on the user by vibrating every so often. If the user squeezes the band, it indicates that they are OK. However, if the user does not squeeze the band, it has the ability to alert friends and family.
Many have attributed this product as another way to combat sexual assault.
There is little doubt that products like Undercover Colors and Vive are important additions to what is being done to combat this problem. They could help both me and my other college friends avoid a horrible situation. People have even spoken out about how such an invention could have helped them.
Though for some reason, when I heard about these products, I couldn’t help but feel kind of defeated at the thought of purchasing them for myself. In fact, it makes me kind of angry that I even have to be provided with products like these.
They are offering a pretty good way of avoiding sexual assault, but are they sending a strong enough message about stopping it as a whole? It seems like these products are providing a band-aid for a problem that needs a whole lot more work than a wristband could ever provide.
These products will surely help while we figure out a better solution — they are a source of prevention. But shouldn’t we be concentrating our energy on other things? Like figuring out why those 85 institutions of higher learning, which include some of the most sought-after universities and colleges, are being investigated? Shouldn’t universities be figuring out a way to rightfully punish those who commit these crimes and help those who are victims so they can stay off lists like that?
For now, we can accept the nail polish and the wristband as necessary evils. However, solutions like this cannot be sustained in a world where one out of every five women will be a victim of sexual assault while in college. That number indicates a need for education and a change in the mindset of those who are committing these assaults.