A Difficult Conversation: Campus Faces Concerns of Sexual Assault


Photo courtesy of Jeanine Biggs

Photo courtesy of Jeanine Biggs

By Jillian Weynand and Jeanine Biggs

One of the most frequently heard about issues taking place at colleges in this generation is the harassment that female college students face.  It seems as though we hear about an incident where a young woman is sexually harassed, threatened and in the worst case she is assaulted more often than we would expect.

Incidents like this don’t just occur at large four-year universities, but they also occur in small town schools, much like community colleges.  Students here at our school are commuters who come to class, maybe grab a bite to eat with a friend or two and spend some time at the library, then leave campus to carry on with their day.  What we don’t hear about is the incidents that many female students run into while at school.

According to the National Institute of Justice at the U.S. Department of Justice, for every 10,000 students that attend a college, there are 350 rapes. Nearly 5% of college rapes are reported to the police and nearly 90% of all rapes occur when the assailant and victim know each other.

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act require colleges to inform the student-body of three categories of crime statistics of past offenses that occurred on campus since 1991.  Jeanne Clery was a student who attended Lehigh University and was raped and murdered in her dorm room in 1986.  The Clery Act requires that the college alerts students of criminal offenses such as violent acts, robbery and sexual offenses as well as hate crimes and arrests for possession of drugs or weapons.

The Public Safety Department does not take incidents like these light-heartedly. The local college community has access to a team of officers who feel that this is an issue that must be taken care of to keep it from occurring and the Annual Security Report that is published on the college website states that our college has zero tolerance for crimes related to sexual assault

The Annual Security Report states within its Statement of Victim’s Rights, “Students have the right to human dignity, the right to resources on and off campus, the right to campus judicial proceedings and the right to law enforcement and campus intervention.”

In the past women who did not come forward when they were assaulted did not receive the assistance they were entitled to.  Too many women have been assaulted and their incident suddenly loses validity because they were too frightened or ashamed to come forward when they have nothing to be ashamed of.  Women need to be reminded of how powerful they are and remember to raise their voice and be heard.

“I think it happens more at a campus where someone dorms, because they probably have a set routine and someone can learn what that is and possibly stalk them. They also may be afraid to report it because of the conflict it can cause” student Cheyenne Cantone, said.

According to the Washington Post, one in five women is assaulted on campus between the first and last days of school. Included in the Washington Post article was the Campus Sexual Assault Study, which reported that 13.7% of undergraduate women are sexually assaulted since they entered college. Of those in the 13.7%, 7.8% are sexually assaulted while incapacitated after they voluntarily consumed drugs or alcohol, whereas .6% was sexually assaulted when given drugs without their knowledge.

Many colleges and universities around the country are dealing with cases of rape and sexual assault on their campuses, including Vanderbilt University. Vanderbilt is in the middle of reviewing a rape case that took place on their campus in 2013. This case has been featured on many websites and news shows such as 20/20. There was a video of four male students dragging a female student into their dorm and raping her. During the video, the suspects were seen laughing and taking pictures of the unconscious female being raped. These actions taken by these boys really show how rape is not taken serious enough. Whether it was peer pressure, a joke, hazing, or a fun time for the boys involve does not make a difference, a girl was sexually assaulted without her consent.

As a society and a culture, we need to take strides in making sure events and situations such as these do not happen. Rape is not a joke; it is a serious matter that can hurt the victims not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. People making rape into a joke is taking the severity and pain out of what these victims are forced to go through. Maybe if we start taking rape and sexual assault more serious, then people will not think it is right to do it.

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