The college campus sexual assault epidemic

The college campus sexual assault epidemic

The reason for this epidemic is simple: college administrators don’t want to report sexual assaults because the statistics are bad for the college’s reputation.

A few weeks ago I watched The Hunting Ground, by Kirkby Dick. The documentary was released in 2015 and focuses on the epidemic of sexual assault cases on college campuses in the United States and how poorly it is dealt by the academic institutions.

The documentary is excellent and was nominated at this year’s Academy Awards for Best Documentary Feature. There are a lot of statistics regarding sexual assaults, and testimonies from victims, college administrators (past and present) and police forces. However, it can be difficult to watch for some people, since it is a heavy subject and some stories are quite upsetting.

According to the documentary, the reason for this epidemic is simple: college administrators don’t want to report sexual assaults because the statistics are bad for the college’s reputation. Minimizing rape statistics trumps the students’ welfare. Hence, if dealing with a sexual assault victim, college administrators have different tactics to discourage the victims to file a complaint which include, asking them what they were wearing, if they had been drinking and so on.

There are also two sub-causes to this epidemic. First, there are fraternities. While not all fraternities are sexual assaults grounds, some of them are well known as “the date rape frat”. The frat members are often sexually aggressive towards women pledges, in order to receive praise from their fellow brothers. There is a sense of pride of having a predator/prey relationship. Furthermore, frats are well-known party centers and members try to get attendees drunk as quickly as possible in order to increase their chances of having sex.

Secondly there are the varsity athletes. In the U.S., football players can be compared to rock stars. If the team performs well, it can bring a lot of money to the university. The Hunting Ground studies the case of Jameis Winston, who was a star quarterback at Florida State University and then went on to play in the NFL. During his studies at FSU, a complaint was filed against him for sexual assaulting a fellow student. It is astonishing to learn that college administrators and police forces discouraged the victim to file a complaint due to the status of Jameis Winston, as if he was a Messiah of football. Thus, if you attack the star athlete, you are Judas and you must be destroyed.

Although not mentioned in the movie, I personally noticed one other cause to this epidemic – that is, the lack of sex education in the US. In the US, sex education is often around one topic: abstinence. However, sex education goes beyond that and if you’re reading this blog, you probably already know that sex education is good (Bravo!). Sex education can teach you about contraception, STIs but also consent and what is proper consent.

How do you think sex education could help prevent sexual assaults on college campuses?

Written by: Taylor T.

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