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The Rochester Institute of Technology has apologized for a student orientation that appeared to suggest masturbation as a deterrent to sexual assault.
A slide from the orientation showed the Winnie the Pooh character of Roo, with the character’s name used as an acronym for “rub one out,” a reference to masturbation. Closed captioning at the bottom of the slide read: “Self-gratification can prevent sexual assault.”
While critics immediately blasted the slide as making light of rape, university officials claimed that it was taken out of context. They claimed that the broader context was about alternatives if a sexual partner withdrew consent and left a student in a state of sexual frustration.
“The overarching goal was to increase awareness and promote discussion about the ways we together can prevent instances of sexual misconduct on our campus,” Sandra Johnson, senior vice president for student affairs, said in a statement.
Darci Lane-Williams, director of RIT’s Center for Women and Gender, said of the orientation, “At no point did we say that masturbation is a deterrent to rape. We were talking about situations in which someone may want to do something sexually, and their partner withdraws consent and what options they have if they find themselves sexually frustrated once they leave.”
“In our experience, telling students what ‘not to do’ without talking about specific situations that are difficult to navigate is irresponsible; we addressed the subject from a place and context that students could understand,” Johnson said.