“If these young, hot little girls on campus have a firearm, I wonder how many men will want to assault them. The sexual assaults that are occurring would go down once these sexual predators get a bullet in their head.”

To her credit, Assemblywoman Michelle Fiore later conceded that her quote wasn’t “the most eloquent way to phrase it.” But I doubt a more careful choice of words could convince me that frat parties and firearms are a good combination.

Even as awareness of sexual assault in college is rising, it’s obvious that many people still fundamentally misunderstand the problem. According to the New York Times, the gun lobby is pushing the idea that women should be armed in order to prevent rape. Never mind that, according to the New York Times, experts on the subject denounce that solution. Most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows, and in social situations that don’t lend themselves to easy gun use.

In most of the high-profile sexual assault cases in the news, the victim wasn’t violently attacked and overpowered. More often, drunk people are taken advantage of or coerced into having sex. Sometimes it’s obvious who’s in the wrong – anyone with a conscience knows not to sleep with someone who has passed out. But now, on many college campuses, a person can be found guilty of rape if they can’t prove that they received verbal consent.

Twelfth-grade sex ed with biology teacher Kellie Whited centered around this issue, and I found the class more helpful than any of the classes I’d had in the past. When I think of our previous sex-ed classes, I’m not surprised that so many people are ignorant, and that colleges have to struggle so much to keep their students safe.

In elementary school, we learned about tampons and labeled drawings of genitalia with fancy words I promptly forgot. In middle school and sophomore year, sex ed consisted of information about various types of STDs, as well as birth control. While a quick overview would have been useful, the details quickly became superfluous. We didn’t need to hear pros and cons for every possible method of birth control. We can easily find that information on the Internet or, better yet, talk to a doctor.

So I was pleased that this year, sex ed tackled trickier issues rather than going over lists we’d heard a thousand times. Dr. Whited went over common college rules about consent, what to do if you’re sexually assaulted, how to prevent date rape and, in general, information that was actually relevant.

For instance, without that class I wouldn’t have known that girls who are raped should go to the hospital without showering, changing their clothes or brushing their teeth; avoiding cleaning up allows more testing to be done. And I was glad so much time was spent on the issue of consent because the definition of rape, according to many colleges, includes any sexual activity that does not include a verbal “yes” from both partners.

The issue of sexual assault in colleges is surrounded by a lot of confusion, ignorance and disagreement, so it’s about time we had a sex-ed class that was actually useful. I don’t miss the days when we spent hours listening to descriptions of every contraceptive on the planet.

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