I have two letters I would like to share.

Here is my first.

Dear freshman boy that ran up during the Orientation sexual assault education and said “drunk girls get horny and just want sex.”

Thank you.

Thank you for showing us the reality of rape culture on campus and in society.

As I sat in the bleachers looking around at my outraged peers, I thought hard about what you said and how to take it.

I arrived at this.

Hearing those words was extremely painful and made me sad about the world we live in, but it opened my eyes to the state and to what the rest of the world is still in.

When we are encompassed in our Portland suburban liberal arts bubble, it’s easy to feel like the world is progressing to become an open and accepting place.

But it’s not.

The reality is that there are an overwhelming number of people with your mindset about women and consent.

I grew up with a lot of them in a rural farming town before I came here and somehow in the midst of my three years here, I thought they were evolving like we all were.

That’s simply not the case.

The majority of the world outside of the safety of the Portland metro area is still ignorant and stuck in a one hundred year old mindset.

The majority of the world doesn’t get mature discussions about consent and sexual misconduct.

Most people still think drunk girls are asking for sex and deserve what’s coming to them.

It’s pretty disheartening, right?

Here’s the good news.

We can change that.

As young educated individuals with a united passion about sexual safety, we have a lot more power than we realize.

A power I got to see in full force during orientation when a brave young woman responded to that same ignorant comment with her own struggle as a sexual violence victim.

My peers rose to their feet to give her a standing ovation.

That is power.

So what do we do with it?

That brings me to my second letter.

Dear freshman boy who asked forgiveness for his ignorance and gave a brave victim of sexual violence a hug in the middle of a room that hated him,

I forgive you.

I know that your mindset is simply a result of the culture you grew up in and I don’t hold that against you.

I know it’s easy to be angry at ignorance, but our united power is put to much better use educating and accepting our peers but this is our chance to spread education and healthy ideas to a person who hasn’t been exposed to them before.

We have all this power as a progressive university but we don’t embrace challenging conversations with people who don’t think the same we do.

I often see one of two things when people here are presented with ignorance.

We either shy away from an uncomfortable situation or we get so angry we end up catering to a stereotype that progressive people are all crazy liberal fanatics.

It’s easy to talk about consent with people who all agree on it.

Swallowing your anger and having an open conversation with someone who has never heard your point of view is how we create change.

Ostracizing ignorant people breeds contempt and more ignorance.

So let’s get out there and start talking to people.

Let’s be kind and show them that broadening their manner of thinking might not be that scary.

We are 1,700 people strong at Pacific. That’s an army.

As a survivor of sexual violence I know that these issues are worth fighting for. I just think a lot more can be fought with kindness than anger.

So thank you freshman boy for presenting us with a challenging situation. I am excited to educate you and get to know you more.

Sincerely,

One in Five.

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