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OPINION: Until It Happens to You

Lady Gaga is a musician synonymous with the strange and bizarre. But her latest single addresses a serious topic that’s become all too common across college campuses.   The music video for “Until it Happens to You,” features three different scenarios of sexual assault, an epidemic the video notes is faced by one in every five women in college. Lady Gaga’s celebrity status is bringing a taboo topic into conversation and the song is providing an opportunity for students to take note of how prevalent sexual assault is. Western is one of 109 colleges in the U.S. undergoing Title IX investigations, according to an April 2015 release from the Office of Civil Rights. The potential violation of Title IX, is scary for Western students who have been affected by sexual assault as the law prohibits discrimination based on sex in a federally funded educational institution. Title IX also requires schools to have procedures set up to deal with sexual assault and violence and prohibits discrimination against sexual assault victims.   It’s sad that such federal laws and support groups are necessary. But even though they are, It seems like the topic is often ignored. Controversy and backlash surrounding sexual assault can also create the stereotype that only women are assaulted and only men are predators. However, one in every 16 men will face sexual assault while in college as well. Blaming the victims of sexual assault is also an unfortunate truth. While such an accusation may seem ridiculous to many, there are those who will claim victims were somehow provoking their attackers. Lady Gaga has broken the sexual assault stigma with the force of mainstream music, which could potentially be extremely valuable in the fight to stop it from continuing. For CASAS Coordinator Katie Plewa, it is valuable to have sexual assault awareness in the media when there is a positive, inclusive message. Even if some people do not like the way it was portrayed of who delivered the message, it gets a conversation started. Plewa feels while the song’s video is, “very Hollywood,” it also encompasses the wide range of people affected by different kinds of sexual assault. Yes, the video is upsetting, but the shock factor is for people who have not been affected directly by sexual assault, so they can see the truth of the issue. But for that reason, the video also prompts a very important conversation.

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