- Category: Volume 85 (Fall 2013 - Spring 2014)
- Published: 20 October 2014
- Written by ANNA GARBUS | CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Dating and getting to know people can be nerve-wracking, but the threat of sexual assault is even scarier than battling nerves on a first date. Rutgers University's Students Challenging Realities and Educating Against Myths (SCREAM) Theater addressed the issues of sexual assault on college campuses on Tuesday, Sept. 30 in Wilson Hall.
The performance, consisting of undergraduate students, graduate students, and alumni of Rutgers University, began in 1991 and has become a campus-wide phenomenon.
Brady Root, a member of SCREAM Theater, started the program by rattling off startling statistics regarding sexual assault. "Twenty percent of women are raped, mostly in their college years," Root said. "One in every 33 men younger than 18 are sexually assaulted in their lifetime."
Behind her was a stage, depicting a stereotypical college dorm getting ready for a party: there was a table with solo cups and a pitcher of alcohol, as well as an area on the right-hand side of the stage that represented the upstairs, containing a bed and more drinks. The improvised scene consisted of eight characters named Jess, Rachel, Liz, Ryan, Alex, Corey, Sam and Elena.
Jess and Liz were both excited to hang out with the boys that they met earlier, Ryan and Corey. The boys invited the girls over to drink before going to a party later in the night. The girls' friends, Rachel and Elena, tagged along. Before they get to the party, Jess and Liz explain how they really like Ryan and Corey, and could see pursuing serious relationships with them.
The scene then switches to the boys in the dorm, accompanied by their roommates Sam and Alex, gossiping about the girls. Corey states how he actually likes Liz, although he would take things to the next level if she wanted to. Ryan says, in vulgar terms, how he just wants to have sex with Jess. The girls walk in and they all begin to drink.
Corey takes Liz into his room and he offers her a drink. She has a little more vodka, and when she reaches her limit, he respects that. They talk for a little and then he abruptly comes onto her. Liz says to stop, and he does just that. Corey gets off of her and they agree to pretend that nothing happened.
On the contrary, Ryan does not do the same. They had all decided to leave for the party when Jess and Ryan agree that they will catch up later. Both go up to Ryan's room and sit on his bed. Ryan encourages Jess to drink some more, although she does not want to. He then jumps on top of her, and Jess begins to scream things like "no" and "stop."
Ryan yells at Jess to shut up and covers her mouth. Sam, a female roommate who had just moved in, walks in and then quickly leaves, not wanting to be involved. The scene then changes to the next night, where Jess is talking with her girl friends about what happened with Ryan.
Each friend represents a different way that a person outside the situation may respond. Elena encourages Jess to go to the hospital, call the police, or speak to a counselor. When the victim says she is not ready, Elena respects that and continues to comfort her. Elena showed to correct way to respond to this situation, unlike her other friends. Rachel is very aggressive, saying that she wants Jess to go to the police or she will go for her. Liz does not believe that Jess is telling the truth, and says that because alcohol was involved, it was her fault.
Then we see the boys' conversation. Corey claims to have seen Jess crying the night before, and begins to ask Ryan if he had done something wrong. Ryan denies assaulting her, saying that she had wanted it.
The program teaches that it is never the victims' fault, no matter whether alcohol is involved or not. This is an important lesson for anyone.
"The performance really got to the point. I really liked it because it was realistic and easy to relate to," said Jill Murphy, an undeclared freshman. "The presentation may have seemed a bit harsh and scary, but that was because the actors tried their best to make the situation feel real."
A psychology major who prefers to remain anonymous said, "Awareness is definitely spread, yet something must be missing if it keeps happening. I do feel that there is only so much someone can do to prevent such a terrible thing, but I hope we find a different way to spread the awareness to stop this all together."
Elysia Whritenour, a freshman psychology major, feels that using the media is a great way to begin raising awareness in today's society. "It's not really brought up in conversation. The only time people really talk about it is if we have mandatory meetings regarding it," she said. "To raise awareness, we should pay attention to the media and learn to help prevent it from occurring. It needs to be made more public and can't be pushed aside."
Raising awareness on sexual assault is in our hands. The SCREAM Theater performance was an amazing experience and is a great program. We all have a voice and we all can use it to work together to help each other positively.