In the days leading up to the UTSA vs. Texas State University game, anticipation and excitement was high. This rivalry game brought a lot of school spirit along with competitive slander. While this is all part of the high-energy of football season, especially with such a great rival, a group of students took it to a new level. On Sept. 20, a few highly offensive banners aimed toward the Bobcat football team were displayed on campus.
While I personally did not witness the hanging of these banners, I received President Eighmy’s email regarding this misconduct. If you have not read his email, I recommend you do. He strongly condemned the behavior, assured there would be disciplinary action and advocated the use of on-campus services for those deeply disturbed by the promotion of rape culture on our campus.
After reading his email, I received a photo of one of the banners which had been circulating digitally. The image was graphic; it depicted sexual assault between both school’s mascots and included obscene language. Not to mention, these students were insensitive enough that they were pictured smiling boastfully with the poster they created. While this act was committed by a select few, I am mortified that this caused an overall perception of disrespect by the entire student body at UTSA, myself included.
As someone who is close to multiple victims of rape and sexual harassment, and as a woman, I was horrified that this was something that occurred at my “home” for the past three years. While this reaction may not have been the intent of the creators, it is a true reflection of how rape culture is sometimes not taken seriously in our current society.
For those who have experienced sexual harassment in any way, images and language can bring back intense emotions related to their abuse and trauma. Sometimes this can even cause them to relapse. Considering that many victims blame themselves, these acts can affect not only their mental health, but also their interactions among friends, peers, family and professors. Furthermore, making light of sexual assault normalizes the crime and perpetuates rape culture on school campuses and society in general.
I hope this incident promotes awareness of the serious repercussions of what may seem like a harmless joke. Moreover, this incident should make you angry and those involved ashamed of their actions. Use these emotions to join a movement for change. With student voting right around the corner, do your research and advocate for a candidate who is active in reducing rape culture and increasing awareness on the issue.