Why BASU alarms are the new rape whistle and just as ineffective

On September 12, 2017, KION ran a story on CSUMB distributing BASU alarms to students to prevent sexual assaults on campus. BASU alarms are small, plastic devices that let out a high-pitched loud sound that is supposed to startle attackers and alert nearby people to step in and help. We applaud CSUMB for taking steps to protect their students, however, there are two main problems with trying to address campus sexual assaults with such devices.

The first is that passing out alarms doesn’t address the reality of sexual assault. These devices would only be effective if people are being attacked in the open on their way to or from class or in other open spaces on campus.  The narrative of sexual assaults being committed by strangers is a myth. The majority of sexual assaults are committed by people known to the survivor (70%) and these attacks often happen in our own homes (55%). We should be putting our energy and resources toward addressing the fact that so many feel entitled to our bodies rather than wasting resources on giving out devices that give the illusion of safety.

The second problem with these devices is that it puts the responsibility on survivors to prevent assaults, rather than focusing on those who commit sexual assaults. We need to work on having our police departments take reports seriously and encouraging our DA offices to prosecute these cases. We should spend less time throwing weight behind outdated and ineffective methods and more time addressing what’s actually happening on campuses around the nation. Women should not be expected to modify their behavior or be on extra alert; we need to teach everyone to about consent and healthy relationships.