Sexual assault is everyone’s problem

by Morgan Rubin

Let’s face it­­­–there are very few places on the planet where we can feel safe. Some people feel safe within their homes, while others find comfort within the walls of religious institutions and schools. with all the sexual harassment cases at universities across the United States in recent months, the latter hasn’t really been true. Schools such as Yale, Columbia, Ohio State, Harvard, Brown and a number of others are currently under fire for the poor handling of the sexual assault cases that have happened on and around the campuses, reported by students.

There is a multitude of problems within university policies that have been brought to the attention of the general public. Here’s what needs to be done by universities to improve how sexual harassment cases are handled.

 

Stop playing the blame game

Victims of harassment at these campuses have said that upon reporting the crime, they were essentially blamed for, “partaking in risky behavior,” or “being vulnerable.” One school administrator even allegedly asked, “What could you have done differently?” in the wake of a victim’s rape. I find any level of victim shaming despicable, especially when it involves an educational institution. The job of the school faculty and administrators is to help students in any and every way possible, not put into their heads that such unthinkable acts happen only because of the actions of the victims themselves. That’s how students start to blame themselves, which leads to depression, and in some cases, suicide.

 

Don’t wait for the government to say what to do

This has gone so far, that politicians are getting involved. U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill from Missouri stated earlier this month that she will start a national investigation looking into how universities respond to the sexual assault cases reported to them. Earlier this year, President Obama set up a specific task force to look into the issue. When the situation gets so bad that the government has to step in, it’s clearly time for universities to reevaluate their current practices. This measure shouldn’t be necessary, and frankly it’s frightening that it is. The evaluations of procedures should be happening before the government steps in. Schools can take it upon themselves to create more preventative measures to try to make those cases few and far between, without pressure from the government.

 

Make sure the convicted actually pay for the crime

In August 2013, a Brown University student was brutally raped by a former friend. She filed charges through the university, and as a result, he was found guilty only of breaking the university’s code of misconduct. He only received a year of suspension from the school for raping his classmate–a slap on the wrist, basically. Don’t forget that the classmate he raped will no doubt run into him on campus once he returns. To have someone around that has been found guilty of hurting someone is bound to be horrifying for the survivor the crime. If I were in that young woman’s position, there is no doubt that I would be terrified to be at that school. This is why the universities need stricter punishments for those convicted of such crimes. Not only should the schools expel that person, they should follow up with an actual criminal investigation. Rape is rape, whether a student does it on campus, or not. Those people should be held accountable.

 

Though not up to par with many other universities, I’m not disillusioned into thinking San Diego State is free from such upsetting activities. Luckily, our school has a few ways to combat sexual assault, such as a once-a-year safety workshop organized by the SDSU Police Department and the Women’s Resource Center. However, there is always opportunity to do more.

It’s imperative that everyone, not just college students, are mindful about the dangers, the precautions and the solutions to these problems. An estimated one in five women have been sexually assaulted in this country, according to The New York Times. With each passing day, it seems as if the only people that are safe are the sexual assaulters themselves. We have the power to change the status quo and prevent these crimes by making students feel safe with their peers. The time to act is now and not hesitate any further for governmental intervention.

 

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