Popular Alcohol Edu Program Implies Rape is a 'Thing' Drunk People Do

Over 600 colleges and universities around the world use Alcohol e-Checkup to Go (e-CHUG), a “personalized, evidence-based, online prevention intervention” (with a cheeky acronym!) designed to “motivate individuals to reduce their consumption using personalized information about their own drinking and risk factors." Too bad it teaches bros that rape and getting raped are "things" people do when they're drunk.

Amherst student journalist Ethan Corey thinks e-CHUG is a "propagandistic, skewed device that pathologizes any and all forms of drinking, no matter how moderate they may be," which, okay — I remember having similarly strong feelings about my "alcohol edu" program, which taught me that skinny sorority girls drink so it's easier to throw up their food — but he makes excellent points about the fucked up way the program discusses the correlation between alcohol and sexual assault.

Participants were originally informed that the “risk factors” of drinking include raping/getting raped:

One area of risk taking that is especially relevant is sexual risk. When intoxicated, people are more likely to do things they would never do when sober, including not using condoms, having sex with someone they would not have otherwise chosen, or committing acquaintance rape or becoming a victim of sexual violence. Alcohol is associated more closely with crimes of sexual violence than any other drug (CASA, 1999).

Of course it's important to talk about the correlation between drinking and sexual violence. But the above paragraph suggests that rape is an unfortunate but predictable consequence of having one too many shots, like drunk-dialing exes or giving sloppy hugs to strangers — a "thing" that might happen to a nice guy who got extra drunk. And it's super weird and wrong to equate being a rapist with being raped, as the phrase "...or committing acquaintance rape or becoming a victim of sexual violence" implies.

Corey noted other weird lessons about sexual violence and alcohol throughout e-CHUG, like this question about the feedback participants receive if they report any unwanted sexual experience(s) on the survey:

Popular Alcohol Edu Program Implies Rape is a 'Thing' Drunk People Do

"e-CHUG is actually telling survivors of sexual assault that they could meet their relationship goals, whatever those may be, by decreasing or doing away with being raped," Corey writes. "While I’m sure ending sexual assault would greatly improve the lives of rape victims, the program is pretty blatantly implying that victims have control over whether or not they are assaulted."

e-CHUG edited that first question after Corey investigated; it now reads:

One area of risk taking that is especially relevant is sexual risk. When intoxicated, people are more likely to do things they would never do when sober, including not using condoms or having sex with someone they would not have otherwise chosen… Alcohol is also more closely associated with crimes of sexual violence than any other drug (CASA, 1999). The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that, of all women who have experienced sexual assault, “approximately one-half of those cases involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, victim, or both” (NIAAA, 2013). It is important to note that alcohol use is never the cause or an excuse for sexual assault. Sexual assault is a crime.

Better, but not great; it still allows rapists to justify their actions by saying "I/she was so wasted!"

A NIJ report on college sexual violence found that in 80-90% of cases, the victim and assailant know each other; the more intimate the relationship, the more likely it is for a rape to be completed. The Justice Department estimates that fewer than 5% of completed and attempted rapes of college women are reported to law enforcement officials; far below the rate of the general population, where about 40% of all sexual attacks are reported to police. Let's not make more rape survivors feel guilty for getting raped while under the influence.

[AC Voice]