Sexual Assault on College Campuses

 Forensic Summary by Marissa Felinczak

You always hear terrifying statistics like: one in 5 women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college (1) or more than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault (2). Rape culture has emphasized the importance of safety on college campuses and has shed some light onto victims of sexual assault and their stories.

The Hunting Ground, a documentary released in early 2015, deals with the issue of sexual assault on college campuses in the most real and heart breaking way. The film is mainly about two young women from UNC Chapel Hill who filed Title IX complaints after their rape allegations were not taken seriously by university administration. Naturally, there has been so many critics of this film stating that the film is inaccurate and not objective. Though the film exposes information about sexual assault on college campuses, every university handles situations differently and most universities are striving to improve the way sexual assault allegations are handled.

Another infamous campus sexual assault is that of Emma Sulkowicz. While her name may not sound familiar, her story will. Emma is known as the girl who carried around her mattress at Columbia University for her senior thesis entitled: “Carry The Weight.” While her performance was moving, the student she accused was found to be “not responsible” for the allegations. The boy accused found Emma’s performance an act of bullying. This case was also very controversial because the boy was found “not responsible” by campus standards.

The whole concept of sexual assault is usually “he said, she said,” unless there is physical evidence. Like mentioned earlier, one of the most common statistics is that sexual assaults on college campuses are not reported. This means that sexual assault kits are never performed and there is no physical evidence to prove one side or the other.

The lack of evidence has led to many people and college administrators minimizing any allegations of rape.

Title IX is a federal civil right that prohibits discrimination based on sexual identity in the educational system. While often title IX is associated with athletics, it also deals with discrimination against women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs and sexual violence.

Though it may appear that universities are not doing much when it comes to sexual assault on campus, they are striving to improve to make campus a safer place for everyone.

Sources:

  1. Krebs, C. P., Lindquist, C., Warner, T., Fisher, B., & Martin, S. (2007). The campus sexual assault (CSA) study: Final report. Retrieved from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service: http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/221153.pdf
  2. Fisher, B., Cullen, F., & Turner, M. (2000). The sexual victimization of college women (NCJ 182369). Retrieved from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/182369.pdf
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