How Safe Is Your Campus?

The music is loud, the lights are bright, and the bodies all around make her warm. She’s been dancing against this tall form all night, so it doesn’t surprise her when he asks her to leave the party with him. She doesn’t know how many drinks she’s had and she can barely stand on her own two feet without assistance, but she agrees and they leave. In the morning she wakes with a migraine, in an unfamiliar dorm with the guy from the night before in bed beside her. Images from the night slowly start to invade her mind: the screams to stop, the pain and above all, the confusion. She quickly dresses and leaves, never looking back.

Rape Statistics

Who’s the 1 in 10?

Sit down outside on your campus lawn and look around. Of the 1,000 women you see, 35 will report being raped during the academic year. But, there could be more than just that estimated 35.  According to the National Institute of Justice, less than 5% of completed or attempted rapes against college women are reported to law enforcement. Everyday a woman is sexually assaulted and everyday many go unreported.  That ranges anywhere from unwanted kissing all the way to intercourse. To break this statistic down into something imaginable, for every 10 women in your class, at least one has been, or will be, sexually assaulted.

Isn’t College About Having Fun?

The four years of life that many dedicate to college is supposed to be filled with fun and new experiences. Students want to go out without the ever present eye of their parents watching over them. It is a time to go out, drink, party, and enjoy youth. But it seems those happy times with friends, can contribute to the very thing we wish to avoid. In the study Correlates of Rape while intoxicated in a National Sample of College Women researchers found that one in twenty women, about 4.7%, reported being raped in college since the beginning of the year—that spans a length of seven months. Of those raped, nearly three quarters happened while the victims were so intoxicated they were unable to consent or refuse. As students are pressured by peers to go out and party, their likelihood of assault increases.

How Do You Define The Confusion?

We Deserve a Rape Free Campus!

Gender violence is the physical, verbal, emotional, sexual and visual brutality inflicted disproportionately on members of one sex. One form of gendered violence is sexual assault.  Sexual assault, as defined by Dr. Julia T. Wood in Gendered Lives, is any sexual activity that occurs without informed consent. For there to be informed consent, the person must be of legal age, of sound mind, and say yes. Informed consent is not established by merely not saying no. Sexual assault includes rape and other forced sexual activities with strangers; sex coerced by friends or dates; forced sex between husband and wife or those in a committed relationship; incest; pedophilia; and sexual slavery. Sexual assault is highly prevalent on college campuses. College students are at risk for attack because of their easily followed routines, high alcohol consumption and the tendency for students to feel safer on campuses than outside them.  Due to the fact that both women and men of college age “tend not to judge forced intercourse as rape if it occurs with an acquaintance or friend and is not “violent”– meaning that physical force or injury was not involved besides the actual rape itself” incidents of assault may go largely unreported, especially when alcohol is involved (Wood, 287).

It’s Not as Clear Cut as You Think

Wouldn’t You Feel Worthless Too?

Many students that report sexual assault and rape turn to their campus authorities, which many times include an honor board court. These honor courts are not courts of law and many times punishment issued to an assailant does not fit the crime. At UVA an assailant was not expelled from school and instead told to stay away from his victim. When a school’s academic honor code calls for automatic expulsion if violated, the mere slap on the wrist that this assailant received only makes the victim seem worthless.Another incident when a school’s honor court did not issue just punishment was the case of UNC student Landen Gambill who made headlines, in March of this year, for being threatened with expulsion for “intimidating” her alleged rapist. After the UNC Honor Court used blaming the victim techniques— questioning the validity of Gambill’s story because she did not immediately leave her boyfriend (the assailant) and was clinically depressed— and dismissed the case, Gambill filed a federal complaint. This resulted in UNC stating that she had violated the school’s honor code by creating a disruptive, intimidating environment for her alleged attacker (who, I might add, she never named once).

UNC student Landen Gambill

Although many schools are showing their lack of protection for students, there are many federal laws that are helping students to find justice. One such law is the newly enacted Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act that requires colleges to inform victims of their rights, options and resources after an attack. Every two minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted. It is important that we stay conscious of our actions and surroundings. We need to educate ourselves and others about predatory behaviors, alcohol use and knowing where to draw the line.

One thought on “How Safe Is Your Campus?

  1. Katherine Moore says:

    Victoria,

    I found your blog very informative. You highlighted a lot of important issue and created awareness for this ongoing problem on college campuses. I know a few women who have had experiences similar to the ones you described in your blog. These women were too afraid to speak up because of the potential implications they thought they would face. Our society, more specifically college campuses have created a notion that females who wear revealing clothing or dance suggestively at a party are asking for sex or “extending an invitation” to men to have sex with them.

    When young college women go home with men after parties they are more than likely drunk, meaning they are not in the right mind to give informed consent. What usually happens is the guy will have sex with the female and the next morning tell her “Oh we were just drunk, this stuff happens.” However, what actually happened was sexual assault. Even if the female knows she was sexually assaulted she will more than likely not report her assailant. This is afraid she will get blamed for the incident. Society, students, faculty & staff, and law enforcement often blame victims who wear suggestive clothing or go home with a guy. They believe that the woman asked for this to happen to them. Victim blaming is something that we as a college community should try to eliminate. Law enforcement should listen to every single reported rape without judgment, this will create a more open environment for females and hopefully more women will feel more comfortable with reporting their assaults.

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