Sexual Assault on College Campuses | Teen Ink

Sexual Assault on College Campuses

May 3, 2016
By Maddiehartz BRONZE, Weatherly, Pennsylvania
Maddiehartz BRONZE, Weatherly, Pennsylvania
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Over the past several years, sexual assault and rape on college campuses has risen and exceeded the growing violence epidemic. Sexual assault and rape against students, especially young women, has become so prevalent that it’s entirely unforgivable. 1 in every 5 women and 1 in every 16 men have been raped or have faced attempted sexual assault on college campuses nationwide . 12% of the women’s cases go completely unreported.  19.3 % of all women are victims of sexual violence. 21, 000 acts of sexual violence occur somewhere in America every week. A large amount of those heinous civil right violations take place on a college campus or to a student attending.  Not a single day passes without a violent act against a woman, man, or member of the transgender community sprawled across a newspaper.

Several universities have taken action, but there are still so many that have not. Many universities have given the abuser weak punishments or no punishments at all. This leaves the victim feeling vulnerable and scared in an environment that should be made and kept as safe as possible for each and every student on the premises. Often times, the victim begins to blame his\ herself because the entire case is dismissed or even forgot about. An example of a college that has absolutely absurd consequences when it comes to rape is James Madison University. When a student is found guilty of rape or any other forced sexual act, if there is video proof, that student is immediately expelled after graduation. Which also means, a student who is very clearly found guilty of rape, is still able to receive a degree from said college. James Madison’s idea of a punishment is to banish the guilty student after graduation so that student can no longer attend events or do insanely important things like tailgate on the same campus they sexually assaulted their victim on.

Rape culture is so incredibly widespread among today’s youth. Colleges are actually promoting sexual violence by allowing abusers to believe their horrid act wasn’t worthy of legal discipline and moral justice.  Fewer than ? of college rape cases result in expulsion or serious legal punishment. The Association for Student Conduct informed college universities that they shouldn’t be harshly punished when dealing with rape cases. 47% of students, who are guilty of sexual assault, are temporarily suspended or receive a slap on the wrist. Congress hasn’t yet made any guidelines that should be followed when dealing with sexual assault.

Listed below are quotes from several U.S. politicians that I believe still have an effect on rape culture today. Although some quotes are a bit dated, it doesn’t change the content of what was said. The thoughts and feelings on women and rape are dramatically exposed through the words of congressmen who are supposed to vouch for both genders.

“If it’s legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try and shut the whole thing down.”
- Rep. Todd Akin (R-Missouri) 2012.

“We do need to plan ahead, don’t we, in life? I have a spare tire in my car. I also have life insurance. I have a lot of things that I plan ahead for.”
- Kansas State Rep. Pete De Graaf, saying that women should plan to be raped. 2011.

“As long as it’s inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”
- Former Texas Republican Clayton Williams on rape. 

When someone is raped while he\she is attending college, it is no longer their college. Fear isolates and takes away every ounce of comfort and stability. How can we allow students to sit in class with the same person who has sexually assaulted them? Someone’s everyday life is dismembered and we have the power to walk away ,but, we shouldn’t. Because it’s on us.

There are many things that can be done to spread awareness about college rape and more strict regulations that the colleges\ universities must follow.

Discuss the importance of sexual assault, rape, harassment, consent, and domestic violence prevention. Information should be constantly talked about to and among students in both high school and college. Educated students, staff, and teachers should step up because the conversation begins with us.

Spread awareness, tips, and helpful information through social media. Today, social media is such a powerful ally. We should always use it as a beneficial resource. Promote websites such as RAINN (Rape, abuse & incest national network). Make a fuss about organizations that exist to truly make a difference.

Teach students and bystanders to INTERVENE. Stand up. Don’t be a statistic.

Thoroughly advocate for the “It’s On Us” campaign in schools nationwide. The It’s On Us campaign strives to end all campus violence on every campus across the country. Make it a requirement for all students to take the pledge against any form of assault on school grounds anywhere.

Several colleges must create petitions forcing lawmakers to sign a bill that requires all campuses to close in on campus violence. Each and every case must be taken seriously and punishments need to stop being so lenient or non-existent.

The last and most important thing we need to stop college violence is to: stop making victims feel like they have done something wrong and stop making rapists feel like they haven’t done anything wrong.

There wouldn’t necessarily be any financial problems that come along with advocating for rape free campuses. However, it’s likely that there will be several roadblocks within the process. Not all schools will take an educated stance against sexual assault and rape. A large percentage of high schools throughout the country don’t think sexual acts of any kind  should be discussed at school. Some educators and parents believe that it’s a topic that adolescents should be taught about at home. Consent isn’t something that is required to be covered during sex ed  in American classrooms. The biggest struggle would be getting a law passed that states that all universities MUST always take any form of sexual violence to the most serious extent and be brutal when punishing guilty students. Lawmakers clearly aren’t making this a top priority as you can see. 

Being truly successful is somewhat unattainable. Sexual assault will always be present on college campuses. Statistics may eventually say otherwise, but we have to think about how many victims remain silent. A productive level of success will be notable when colleges began to take every single case seriously. When consent and the horrors of sexual violence are hammered upon students whether they are attending high school or college. When everyone intervenes. When legislatures can proudly say they played a part in diminishing the effects that rape culture has on today’s youth. When we realize that everyone deserves to be safe. It is up to us to follow through with an unwritten moral obligation. Rape is an ugly thing, but it’s unacceptable to act like it’s not happening. It’s time to act like we are 1 out of those 5 women or 1 out of those 16 men who have faces sexual assault. Rape doesn’t get a pass. Something needs to change because of empathy, not suffering.

The author's comments:

This is an advocacy piece that i wrote from my law class. 

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