Opinion: As UC Berkeley starts again, students must remember that ‘no means no’

I overheard a casual conversation at a nail salon about a possible date rape a student experienced. It sickens me that so many perpetrators aren’t prosecuted.

To the Cal student who was speaking in the nail salon about her sexual assault:

How are you doing? I wish I had spoken up and said something to you, but that felt intrusive, given that I was overhearing your conversation. You were speaking so loudly in the tiny nail salon that everyone couldn’t help but listen. You started by telling the story about how you met the guy. He was a frat boy, a senior, and an athlete. And then you went on to mention how he may have spiked your drink with Xanax. Your friends were surprised, concerned, and curious. Who was he? What happened? I hope their responses were supportive.

You don’t know exactly what happened. He kept giving you drinks, you blacked out, and luckily, a friend came to your rescue. You didn’t want to report him because you didn’t know if he was the one who spiked your drink. You didn’t want to ruin his life if you weren’t absolutely certain. But still, he took advantage of you when you were drunk and not consenting. He even had the gall to send you a snap chat the next day. What he did to you was wrong. Although you brought this up casually, I hope you’ve spoken to a therapist, a counselor, or a parent. I sensed you didn’t want to make a big deal about it. You tried to change the subject but your friends wouldn’t let you. I hope that you will seek help if you need it, and most importantly, I hope you don’t blame yourself.

Sincerely,

Adena

Too often, I hear stories about spiked drinks at Cal frat parties and I hear it from people of all genders. It was shocking to me to hear a conversation of this gravity mixed in with what shoes to wear for rush week. I’m glad she felt she could share what happened with her friends, but I can’t believe the sexual assault was brought up so casually. It disturbs me that sexual assault is so commonplace that people have been conditioned to not see it as a big deal.

As recently as this May, Berkeleyside reported on the arrest of a Cal student for federal sex crimes who was “active in the Greek system.” Sexual assaults with Cal student victims have been reported in and around the Cal campus multiple times this year, and we know that assaults have been severely underreported throughout the years.

It makes me sick to think that perpetrators of sexual assault and harassment others get off scot-free without so much as a slap on the wrist. I can’t believe it needs to be said, but NO MEANS NO. If someone is drunk, under the influence of drugs, or sleeping, they can’t consent. I place the blame on the perpetrators. Sadly, in this environment, all students need to be aware when they go out for a night of fun. As Cal starts up again and rush week begins, watch your drinks, travel in groups, and look out for your friends. If something happens, report it, seek help, and access the numerous resources on campus. You aren’t alone.

Adena Ishii is a Cal alumna, Berkeley resident and a student at Santa Clara University School of Law.