On March 20, UTSA posted on its Twitter account UTSA student athletes pledging to stand up and out against sexual violence, abuse and assault. Signing a piece of paper will not hold student athletes accountable for committing physical and sexual violence, nor will it encourage student athletes to come forward to speak out against other athletes.
Many student athletes may be afraid to speak out against a fellow athlete for committing sexual violence, and signing a form to “#SetTheExpectation” will not change that — predominantly because speaking out could be cultural and career suicide.
Being an athlete means being part of a team, and speaking out against a teammate for being a sexual abuser could make teammates believe that the person speaking out is a snitch. Once a person is labeled a “snitch,” he or she is not reassimilated into the team dynamic, which can cause the player to be shunned or even kicked off the team.
Having student athletes sign a form about standing up against sexual violence is pointless because this form may be asking alleged abusers to call out other abusers. If a student athlete has actually abused other students, it is unlikely that they will come forward; therefore, asking an abuser to call out another abuser is hypocritical, contradictory, and counterproductive. That would be equivalent to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) pouring toxic waste into the ocean.
UTSA administrators should focus their efforts on changing rape culture on campus, rather than focusing on requiring student athletes to sign meaningless forms.
Rather than promoting catchy but meaningless slogans, such as “#SetTheExpectation,” and having athletes take a pledge, UTSA should put its efforts into meaningful educational awareness programs and campaigns to change campus culture concerning sexual assault.
Decades ago the “D.A.R.E.” and “Just Say No” campaigns did not result in social change—neither will “#SetTheExpectation.”