In Appalling News, This College Thinks Students Should Masturbate To Avoid Sexual Assault

Steven_K_Chen/Flickr Creative Commons
Colleges across the country have begun taking steps to educate students about sexual assault and consent, but Rochester Institute of Technology gave some misguided advice during a recent seminar for freshman. The 2,800 students in attendance were told that masturbation can curb sexual violence on campus.
The students were told to imagine that sexual encounters have traffic lights and, if a person receives a red light, the solution is to go home and masturbate. The slide in question, which has been shared widely on social media, used a cartoon character to drive home the message. "Think of Roo!" it read, before advising students to go home and "Rub One Out."
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The Cut reports that a presenter told students, "self-gratification can prevent sexual assault."
One of the most common misconceptions about sexual violence is that it's about lust when, in reality, sexual assault is about power. When an attractive, successful person is accused or convicted of sexual assault, a common argument is that they could have easily gotten sex elsewhere. So RIT's suggestion to "Rub One Out" ignores a crucial point about why people commit sexual assault.
"It made me very scared to say that I have experienced sexual assault. Because now I get the impression that people on campus think it is a joke," an 18-year-old freshman told The Cut, referencing "Roo" memes created by other students that make light of sexual assault. "I am concerned that if I ran into an issue like that again, or want to talk about my previous experience that it wouldn’t be treated as a serious issue by administrators. It made me very uncomfortable, and I felt like I was being insulted."
"I think they need a new presentation and to apologize to their students," Annie E. Clark, the co-founder of End Rape on Campus, told The Cut. "Students need accurate information that explains that sexual violence is a serious crime; they need to know that if they choose to commit this crime there will be consequences. This solution of masturbation that the school presented is overly simplistic, and not helpful, and not accurate. Sexual violence is a targeted crime that people choose to commit, and to reduce it to something that can be solved by masturbating I think is highly uneducated and very misguided."
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Although RIT’s president David Munson issued an apology, other officials claim the slide was misinterpreted and taken out of context.
"We didn’t want to have your typical conversation about rape," Darci Lane-Williams, director of the Center for Women and Gender at RIT, told local radio station WXXI. “Everyone knows that rape is wrong, we have all watched enough Law & Order SVU to know that rape is wrong, we want to talk to you about what do you do when you are in a situation with a partner where you are trying to figure out what are they communicating to you, what are you communicating to them."
Students told The Cut that the slide quickly became a campus-wide joke, which seems like a clear sign that RIT's approach backfired.
"Someone even went so far to make a mobile app that has a button that when pressed says, 'Roo.' Everyone gets a great laugh out of it," a 19-year-old male freshman told the outlet.
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