College Sexual Assaults-Change In The Wind?
Sexual assaults on college campuses have made a lot of news lately although the topic is nothing new. What is new is that people are talking about it, and actually there may be some change in the wind. In this article we will discuss what that change is and what brought it about.
In all the articles we’ve written about this topic, we have mentioned that close to one out of every three women will be assaulted in her four years at a University or College. Those statistics are not just made up, they come from the Department of Justice. Where the problem comes in is that the victims are often made out to be the bad guys. Colleges have done little in the past to prosecute these cases of rape, which is a felony.
There is absolutely no doubt that drugs and alcohol are involved in close to 80% of all these cases. And that the victim knows the assailant in close to 90% of the cases. So why haven’t these educational institutions done more to prosecute the offender and protect the victim? The reasons are relatively simple.
Universities rely on their reputation for fundraising and standing in the educational community. If that reputation is tarnished by a taint of felony assaults on campus, it jeopardizes their fundraising capability and their standing against competing universities.
This non-action is what led to a lawsuit at Occidental College by a total of 50 complainants including students and faculty members this past April. The Federal Title IX complaint contained charges from students and alumni who said “Occidental College has fostered a hostile learning environment through decisions designed to bury the true numbers of sexual assaults on campus” the complaint also said that when students reported these crimes they were “betrayed by campus administrators and re-victimized.”
Occidental College, which was one of the first of many such complaints filed under title IX, announced that they reached a monetary settlement with at least part of the original complainants.
We are hoping that this settlement will send a strong message to other Universities throughout the country that they should change their ways.
It is unclear what role the complaint and the settlement had in changes that Occidental made in their policies, but they have a new interim sexual misconduct policy and have hired an advocate for abuse survivors in addition to establishing a hotline that’s operational 24 hours a day. Additionally they have expanded preventative education programs for all students.
In the meantime we still strongly recommend that women on college campuses, especially, carry a self-defense product for personal safety to protect themselves against an assault with one of our close to 200 Pepper Sprays or one of our 123 Powerful Stun Devices.