University of Virginia

It seems that in the news lately, there has been a budding discussion about rape. With the accusations against Bill Cosby and the suspension of Greek life at the University of Virginia amid several allegations, the conversation seems more open now than ever before.

What is surprising about these recent developments is that they are not recent at all — Bill Cosby’s accusations go as far back as the 1960s, and the UVA allegations date back to earlier than 2010. We’ve reached a turning point in the discussion of rape and sexual violence. Whether the allegations are true in either case, their high-profile status has given new life to discussions that were often ignored or skipped over.

But in the wake of these developments, it is important to ask: Why now? This isn’t a new problem, and, unfortunately, allegations like the ones at UVA are commonplace.

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, one out of every six women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape. According to the UT Counseling and Mental Health Center, one in 20 women are sexually assaulted in college. There were 18 reported cases of forced sexual assault on UT campus in 2012, and two UT football players were suspended this year after accusations rose against them. 

The UVA case, however, is gaining national attention not because of the rape allegations, but because of the school’s decision to suspend Greek life until January. 

Although the school’s public action may contribute to the national conversation surrounding college campuses and rape, the discussion should not be restricted to only party and rape culture.

A lot of the discussions place rape culture and party culture hand-in-hand — and while this is sometimes true, rapes are not confined to the inside of a fraternity house or an apartment party. The discussion needs to go further: It needs to address rape allegations as a whole, not as a symptom of partying. 

Although the Cosby allegations — if true — are terrible, they are paving the way for people to stop brushing rape allegations under the rug. The plight of Cosby’s demise is making it OK for victims to come out against their aggressors, even if they are famous and powerful. 

One good thing that came out of the controversies surrounding Cosby and UVA is that they have the power to change the way we talk about and approach rape allegations. Students have the responsibility to take that power and make a change — a change that will stop rape from being put on the back burner. We can’t let rape be another topic whose 15 minutes of fame will eventually pass.  

Interior design sophomore Shawna Stockton promotes the new app “Drunk Mode.” Within the app, one is able to send locations to friends to get safely home from a night out.

Photo Credit: Claire Schaper | Daily Texan Staff

Waking up after a trip to Sixth Street with no recollection of the night can make for a scary morning. The creators of “Drunk Mode,” an app recently brought to UT, want to help students make the most of their downtown experience by remaining responsible throughout the night.

The app, created by students at the University of Virginia, allows users to block themselves from texting or calling selected contacts, find their drunk friends and locate nearby restaurants.

After attending his first party at UVA, founder Joshua Anton realized how much need there was for an app capable of the features that Drunk Mode boasts. 

“There’s a story behind each feature,” Anton said. “[I] received a drunk call from a girl who said many things that wouldn’t have been said sober. Thus, the app was born.”

“Find My Drunk,” a feature made to increase safety, is a spin-off of Apple’s “Find My iPhone.” Users can enable this to show their location on a map, which they can share with selected friends. According to Anton, the creators are also working on incorporating methods of safe transportation into this particular feature.

“Our long-term goal would be to work with UT-Austin to add all the transportation, buses and Lyft cabs to Find My Drunk to make it more convenient to not drunk drive,” Anton said.

In addition to having secured a deal with Lyft, in which users can get $25 off their ride by using a Drunk Mode promo code, the app’s team is also working on partnering with other local businesses. Through the “Nighttime Enhancers” feature, the app promotes things such as happy hours and discounted pizza. Interior design sophomore Shawna Stockton, the UT representative for Drunk Mode, said her job is to contact local bars and restaurants that might want to be featured.

“Being based out of Virginia, [Anton] has no idea that places like Kerbey Lane or Abel’s are hot spots,” Stockton said. “It’s my job to contact the businesses that we want to partner with.”

Concerns have been raised about the possibility of Drunk Mode having a reverse effect and promoting drinking among UT students. Student Government President Kori Rady said he thinks even the name of the app is something people will associate with drinking.

“Since Drunk Mode partners with [bars], it does lead students to them and could encourage drinking,” Rady said.

According to Stockton, however, Rady and others need not worry. She said the Drunk Mode team is eager to work with the campus community to best serve its needs.

“Since our app is regionally specific, that feature in Austin might be used just to promote restaurants — rather than happy hours,” Stockton said. “It’s whatever works for the area.”

Anton said he only has the user’s best interest in mind and that Drunk Mode is about providing what he calls “sexy safety.”

“The idea is not to change party behavior to safe behavior,” Anton said. “But simply to make it more convenient to be safe.”

The Longhorn’s season-long injury problems were enough for the selection committee to pin the team with a No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament, citing a lack of depth.

But having a player like senior outside hitter Lauren Dickson on the roster makes depth less of a pressing concern for the Horns.

While the fifth-year senior’s volleyball journey has been anything but conventional, her ability to step onto the court and perform at a moment’s notice may be crucial to the team’s success in the playoffs.

“It’s critical,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “We’ve had so many injuries, and Lauren has a really good volleyball IQ. She brings a lot of knowledge to the court, and she’s a nice player.”

Dickson arrived on the 40 Acres after four illustrious years at the University of Virginia, where she was the team’s captain and MVP her senior year. After graduating with a business degree, she was accepted into UT’s top-ranked Masters in Professional Accounting program. Because of an ankle injury during her sophomore year, Dickson was granted a medical redshirt waiver — something she had originally not planned to use. But after a request from Elliott and some paperwork, Dickson was suddenly donning burnt orange.

For most of the season, Dickson has been used primarily as a serving specialist, subbing in for one play per rotation. She said she has had fun trying to find a new role, while still competing every day in practice.

“Learning a new role is sometimes challenging, but it’s been good to try to figure out how I can contribute to the team differently than I may have contributed to my Virginia team,” Dickson said. “[At the same time], I try not to get comfortable in a certain role because I don’t want to be satisfied with what I have. It’s important to always be pushing and trying to improve your game, which improves the team.”

Dickson’s work in practice paid off, as she was thrust into the regular rotation after an injury to junior outside hitter Amber Roberson, starting matches against Baylor, Texas Tech and Kansas.

She posted an eight-kill, 11-dig effort against the Red Raiders and put together 15 digs against the Bears; just one short of her career high.

Senior middle blocker Jennifer Doris, who played on a high-performance club team with Dickson once in high school, said Dickson’s experience and defense have been a boon for the team.

“Lauren’s a great player,” Doris said. “At Texas we say you never know when your number is going to be called, and for her to step up means a lot to us.”

Being a graduate student-athlete has its own challenges, as Dickson has to balance playing for a top-10 team in the country with finding a job — which sometimes means running from practice to a recruiting event. She said Elliott has been flexible, and she feels many of her skills on the court will pay off in the corporate world as an auditor.

“I think [recruiters] like seeing you’re an athlete,” Dickson said. “A huge thing is time management and being able to handle everything. [Also] you’re working in teams so they like to see that they know how to work with people, and hopefully once I start, those skills will transfer over.”

Despite being the oldest player on the team, Dickson said she relates well with the freshmen, as she’s both a new face on the team but also has a past experience of being away from home. An Austin native, Dickson still holds records at local volleyball powerhouse Westlake High School.

She said while she misses some aspects of Virginia — such as having four distinct seasons — she’s glad to be back.

“I go home every Sunday and do laundry and just kind of hang out with my parents,” Dickson said. “It’s definitely good to be home.”