Penguin Alert: YSU Was Victim Blaming

Youngstown State University issued a Penguin Alert to the campus community on Friday notifying them that a report of a rape occurred at Lyden House, according to a YSU Police report. The alert went on to provide tips to prevent sexual assault.

The alert said:


Becoming the victim of a crime is no one’s fault. It is estimated that nationwide one in every six college women and one in ten college men will be the victim of a sexual assault or attempted sexual assault. The most common type of sexual assault is not a stranger but someone the victim knows, typically a date or acquaintance. To minimize your risk of being sexually assaulted by someone you know, keep the following points in mind:

  • Alcohol and drugs are sometimes used to create vulnerability to sexual assault and may impair both your and the other person’s judgment. Studies of sexual assault incidents show a high correlation between sexual assaults and drug or alcohol use.

  • Always trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable or sense something is wrong, do what you can to leave the situation.

  • If you see a potential sexual assault situation about to occur, do what you can do interrupt it. You can say something directly, try to create a distraction to stop the situation, or call on others for assistance in stopping the situation.

  • Before you engage in any sexual activity make sure that the other person is able to consent and has given you affirmative consent. The absence of a ‘no’ is not a ‘yes.’”

Although YSU addresses that becoming a victim of a crime is not the victim’s fault, the YSU alert contradicted itself when giving tips on how to prevent assault.

A person can take all of the precautions mentioned in the email and still be a victim of sexual assault. Insinuating to the victim that they could’ve done more can discourage other victims from speaking out and getting the help they need.

Whether drugs or alcohol were involved or not, the rapist’s behavior should be called out — not the victim’s.

Victims are encouraged to report abuse to law enforcement to punish the abuser. But often, the victims are punished with ridicule and blame from their peers.

Confronting an abuser and discussing a rape is already a devastating task for victims, so YSU should give its entire support to victims and not suggest that victims could’ve done more.