Although it’s not very likely, someone could appear on a college campus and start shooting. University police departments are increasingly preparing for that sort of crisis in a number of ways, for instance by forming early intervention teams and educating members of the campus. One such initiative is the “Shots Fired” training program. The gist of the program is that you must respond to an active shooter with a “survival mindset”–determined to take responsibility for your personal safety. The goal is not to scare students and staff but to help them prepare for a violent situation with shots being fired.
While we have nothing against such a program, we find it interesting–yes, let’s say interesting–that a similar awareness, safety, and preparation strategy is not offered for the threat of sexual violence on campus. It’s equally interesting that we don’t hear feminists or others arguing that such programs are victim blaming. We’ve heard no one quip, “How about we teach the active shooters not to shoot?” or “Why should we have to learn how to take down a shooter?” It is pretty creepy and tragic when you think about it, especially since some of the college students have remarked that they already received similar training in high school.
Sexual violence is not only the far more common threat but it’s also usually easier to stop with some training. If we can go to classrooms and post to campus websites telling students that if a shooter enters the room they must do whatever it takes to survive, including yelling and fighting to overtake the shooter, then why aren’t we teaching women that if they are in a room with someone who’s attempting sexual activity against their will that they can and should do what it takes to stop the assailant, including yelling and fighting? And, we’d love to hear female college students one day say, “I already got this training in high school.”