College Campuses – Are They Safe?

College professor Danielle Dirks was quoted as saying “people have the idea this college is kind of idyllic.” Actually, that is the image that all colleges and universities want their students and more importantly their parents to have. It is the whole image of safety and security that is responsible in part for attracting new students. Without new students, there is no University.

A few years ago a young woman enrolled in a tiny college in Los Angeles. It had a diverse student body, a tranquil campus and a good pedigree because our current president went there.

Four weeks into her sophomore year she was sexually assaulted by another student. Like so many other students that are sexually assaulted she failed to report the crime to the Police Department, but rather kept it on campus and had the campus police handle it.

She was told that the assailant would stay in the same dorm as her and that her case wasn’t really “all that serious.”

She pushed for an internal investigation by the school, which found her assailant responsible for her assault. He was initially expelled from school, but that didn’t last very long. He was re-admitted the following semester.

This is just an example of how felony assault charges are mishandled by college administrators. This is not an isolated case or in an isolated school. This problem has become so prevalent that is getting national attention by the U.S. Department of Education.

Among other things, colleges and universities that receive federal support-and that’s all of them-are required by the Clery Act to report crimes that happen on campus. These institutions of higher education circumvent that requirement by calling it a “violation of the student handbook” rather than a felony.

Prof. Dirks, since she was a female professor, acted as a magnet for victims of sexual assault on campus. She was astounded at how many female students came to her and related their stories of how their cases were mishandled.

At the basis of all this is money. If these institutions of higher learning are non-compliant with these laws, they may lose their federal funding. And more important the contributions from graduates and local businesses. No one wants to support an institution that has a bad reputation.

One in four women on a college campus is sexually assaulted in her time there. Her first two years are the most dangerous. Women owe it to themselves to learn how to defend themselves. They cannot rely on anyone else to do it. A self-defense course and a self-defense product such as a stun gun or pepper spray should be the basis for that learning process.

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