Monday, September 20, 1999

UC freshmen get welcome and warning

Sessions cover sex, drugs, alcohol

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The University of Cincinnati's convocation for new freshmen Sunday had all the grandiosity of an Ivy League processional and the spirit of a Big Ten football game.

        Evoking UC's 180-year history, deans and professors paraded into the Shoemaker Center in richly colored gowns and tasseled caps. The marching band's drummers pounded catchy rhythms, while the baton twirler tossed her stick in sync. Enthusiastic parents in the stands waved wildly to the 1,600 young people lined up below.

UC snapshot
        Classes will start Wednesday at the University of Cincinnati, Greater Cincinnati's largest college.
        This year's expected enrollment of 33,000 will include 3,000 freshmen.
        Returning students will find several physical changes to the UC campus, including the reopened College-Conservatory of Music parking garage and the completed Vontz Center for Molecular Studies.
        Students can take a virtual tour of UC at
        After UC President Joseph Steger officially pronounced them UC students, the freshmen sauntered off for the next “Welcome Week” orientation event ... sex and drug education.

        In a new, growing tradition on college campuses, students get warnings on sexual assault, sexually transmitted diseases, drug/alcohol abuse and other modern dangers as part of an orientation that used to include only campus tours, ice cream socials and how-tos on class registration, financial aid and dorm life.

        At UC, such programs are mandatory. Students who don't attend them can't participate in sports, fraternities and sororities, and other campus activities.

        Securing students' safety is administrators' main concern, said Russell Curley, UC's educational services director.

        At the Tangeman University Center after Sunday's convocation, one aspect remained distinctly old-fashioned: They separated the males from the females for a session on sex assault.

        “It's too distracting for them to be together in some thing like this,” explained facilitator Matt McCarren, a UC junior from Steubenville.

        In the men's session, peer educators bombarded their young listeners with a barrage of numbers.

        A woman is sexually assaulted every 45 seconds in the United States. One in three women will be raped in their lifetime. Eighty percent of rapists know their victims.

        Some statistics drew murmurs of interest from the students:

        • Eighty percent of rapes on college campuses involve alcohol.

        • Besides prison and the military, the most man-on-man rapes occur in college fraternities.

        Because rape is a crime of power and not sex, it plagues male institutions such as fraternities where hierarchy is integral, facilitator Nathan Long explained.

        • One rape, on average, is reported to UC police each year.

        That number is misleading, Mr. Long noted, because it represents only rapes committed on campus. And rapes historically are dramatically underreported, he added. Experts estimate that one in 10 rapes is reported.

        Facilitators also emphasized the mantra that has become part of the college tradition in recent years: No means no.

        That sparked a discussion on consent. Can a drunk woman consent to sex? What if she said yes before she got drunk?

        The session was not altogether welcome for some students.

        “I don't drink, and I wouldn't hook up with drunk, falling-down girls,” said Chase Anderson, 19, a fresh man from Blue Ash.

        Freshman Tim Summers of Woodlawn agreed: “There's really no way you can protect yourself (against a complaint of rape) if a girl says yes and later says no because she's mad at you. It's he-said, she-said.”

        But some parents welcomed the new warnings.

        “My biggest worry in college was finding a parking place,” said Nancy Remillard, 41, of Miamisburg, a 1979 UC graduate whose daughter Mindy is a UC freshman.

        “But I think it's good that they're addressing these issues.”

        Knowing that her daughter will go to college parties with people she doesn't know makes Debra Gibson nervous.

        “We didn't do any of this when I was in school,” said Ms. Gibson, 45, of Marion, a 1976 Bowling Green University graduate. “We just kind of showed up and went to class. This is needed nowadays.”


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