By Helen Thias, Writer
*Short disclaimer: Men are also victims of sexual assault, but there’s not great stats due to underreporting, right now the statistics say that about 1 and 16 men will be sexually assaulted. Also, I make some generalizations throughout this piece- please be aware that these statements do not apply to all people, organizations, or situations.
College is seen as a milestone in the lives of many, a place where you began to find yourself, gain independence, and have new experiences. College is often called, “the best four years of your life,” but what if it wasn’t, what if something awful happened, what if you were told that even though you are a victim it was your fault? This nightmare is a reality on virtually every college campus in America. Campus sexual assault is a pandemic, it doesn’t matter if it is a large public institution or a small private one, no school is free of the effects of sexual assault. Many schools don’t deal with the cases adequately, often allowing the assailants to remain on campus with little to no consequences.
College decision is a thought that plagues many seniors minds, but the thought of if they will be safe on the college they choose is usually not part of their decision. And it shouldn’t have to be. Students shouldn’t have to worry that their school is a haven to sexual assault. They shouldn’t have to worry that they will be the 1 in 4 to experience sexual assault on college campus (according to Association of American Universities). They should feel assured that their school of choice has done everything to make their campus safe. But this is often not the case. Schools take matters into their own hands, choosing not to report cases to the police, which leads to very little punishment for the assailants. A study by Huffington Post found that only between 13-30% of students found guilty of sexual assault were expelled! This means that a majority of these people get to remain on campus, potentially continuing to assault others. Why would a college allow these dangerous people to remain on their campuses? The answer: reputation and money. Schools try to sell themselves to high school students, and high disclosure of sexual abuse is typically not a great selling point. Beyond that, sports teams and fraternities often bring in lots of alumi money, and often members of sports teams and fraternities are the ones perpetuating sexual assault. If they were to suspend fraternities notorious for sexual assault or kick students off teams if convicted of assault they could lose some financial help. So colleges and universities decide to keep it quiet, so they don’t lose the support of sports fans and fraternity alum.
Fraternities often promote hypersexuality in a way that can lead men to seeing women as objects rather than fellow humans. This promotion of sexuality combined with their typical party atmosphere is a dangerous combination. Women and men under the influence are unable to give consent and are sometimes completely unaware of what is happening, but to these futurity brothers, sex is not off the table. But without complete consent any sort of sexual activity is assault. Some fraternities earn reputations such as Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE), which is known across the nation as “Sexual Assault Expected” because of its history of sexual assault. Despite this reputation, you can still find SAE on almost every college campus. Sports teams are often the stars of their colleges, which can result in massive egos that makes them feel entitled. Entitlement means consent is ignored and women become victims. But these men have been taught that they will not get punished for their actions, so this violence continues. Obviously not every athlete or fraternity brother is a rapists, but theses are statistically the two most common perpetrators of sexual assault. There needs to be stronger regulations surrounding these activities to keep all students safe.
We all needed to be taking campus sexual assault more seriously. We need to not blame the victim, but instead demand that schools hold criminals accountable for the actions. No one convicted of sexual assault should be allowed back on campus, because it is unacceptable. We all needed to stand up, so that way no one has to worry about being that 1 in 4.
What should you do?
- If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault seek help or help them seek it. Here are some places that you can seek help:
-Seek medical attention ASAP so they can collect DNA for a rape kit and screen for STDs.
–RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network) offers an online chat support online chat support (click if you need access to it now) they also offer calling: 1-800-656-HOPE, if you are in immediate please call 911.
- Be more than just a bystander. If you see someone taking advantage of someone who is unable to give consent or is being threatened, step up.