Rego: Consent shouldn’t be the only issue for Red Whistle Brigade

Shay Rego

Editor’s Note: The views expressed in the following column are those of the writer only and do not necessarily represent the views of The Collegian or its editorial board. This column contains potentially triggering language describing certain forms of sexual violence.

Learning about sexual assault and advocating against it are important topics everyone should be educated on. College is an especially important time to reiterate this education and place focus on its surrounding concepts.


Colorado State University’s Red Whistle Brigade is a campaign put on by the Women and Gender Advocacy Center whose main goals are to educate people on gender, sexual violence prevention, healthy relationships, sexual health and more. 

This organization is a fantastic resource for students, as well as an amazing platform to help spread awareness on these topics, specifically sexual violence prevention. CSU is fortunate to have a program in place that dedicates time and resources to educational events such as tabling in The Plaza, speeches for incoming freshmen, film screenings and other forms of promotion.

However, the Red Whistle Brigade has a flaw in its program that could use reform. The Red Whistle Brigade advocates that the key to preventing sexual violence is to learn about and understand what consent is.

It’s the difference between not understanding what consent is and committing rape and knowing what consent is and still raping someone.

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, 8 out of 10 rapes are committed by someone known to the victim. It’s undeniable that the majority of rape cases are caused by those who know the victim, and that is why it’s important to emphasize consent since clear consent may be muddled by those personally known.

The Red Whistle Brigade does a great job advocating for consent since the majority of rapes are done by those we know, but they don’t do a good job acknowledging any other means to prevent sexual violence. For example, 19.5% of rapes are committed by a total stranger, according to RAINN, which brings attention to the fact that these strangers blatantly didn’t care about consent.

It’s the difference between not understanding what consent is and committing rape and knowing what consent is and still raping someone. The Red Whistle Brigade doesn’t offer an educational remedy to these specific types of situations, but stranger rape still happens every day and is equally important to address as acquaintance rape.

By only promoting the importance of consent education, it’s as if the Red Whistle Brigade feels that consent education is the way to fix all potential rape situations. Consent-only education completely undermines stranger rape motives. 

Perhaps the Red Whistle Brigade should consider integrating how stranger rape could be addressed alongside their consent campaign. One possible solution might be to educate potential rapists, which could be anyone, using an empathetic approach.

For example, one empathetic approach could be creating situational irony: perhaps giving a speech or creating an event that challenges its participants to think about how they would feel if they were raped or if their family member was raped.

A bad person is a bad person, so no matter how much education a person receives, it’s still probable that they will commit a crime regardless. Saying “don’t rape someone” isn’t going to stop someone from committing rape. However, using an empathetic approach might have an impact on a potential rapist’s perspective. 


This is not to undermine the important work that the Red Whistle Brigade does for the community. Their role is vital for sexual violence education. However, there just may need to be some rethinking on their approach.

The point is, stranger rape is a huge issue that needs to be addressed rather than simply chalking it down to the need for understanding what consent is.

Shay Rego can be reached at or on Twitter @shay_rego.