Campus Rape: An Epidemic?

Campus Rape: An Epidemic?

            On September 17, 2012, a 20 year old former student of Glenville State College took the college’s board of governors, its chief of public safety, and four students to court after she was allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted on campus.

The student, who attended GSC from August 2009 to October 2010, filed the federal suit alleging the college and its department of public safety “showed minimal police and investigative training” because, she asserts, evidence was “destroyed, lost, misappropriated, or contaminated.”

As this is an ongoing lawsuit, best handled by lawyers, judges, and juries, I will offer no opinion, but just to point out these disturbing facts about rapes and sexual assaults occurring across campuses nationwide.

With the discrepancy in the way men and women interpret rape and assault let me clarify.  Sexual assault is understood as any unwelcome sexual contact, which is committed by threat, or by force, or without the consent of the other person.  Rape is a form of sexual assault in which, in addition to the aforementioned acts, a bodily orifice is penetrated by a genital organ or object of another person.

It is then shocking to discover that according to statistics reported by the Sexual Assault and Violence Prevention program at Vassar College,  one out of four women will be sexually assaulted, and one out of eight will be raped while a student in college.  Also, in the same survey, they found that one in seven men were victims of sexual assault, showing that this barbaric behavior is not isolated toward women alone.

The attackers of these students are frequently someone known to those assaulted.  84 percent of women who were raped knew their assailant, while 57 percent of assaults occurred while on a date with the assailant.  Only 27 percent of women, whose sexual assault met the legal definition of rape, thought of themselves as rape victims, while 84 percent of college men who committed rape said that what they did definitely was not rape, a disturbing statistic.

Then, after these attacks have taken place, 42 percent of women will tell no one about the assault, with only a shocking 5 percent ever reporting the incident to the authorities.  As a fellow student at GSC, I find these statistics to be a deplorable example of typical college life.   Is there a lack of compassionate understanding for these victims, or is the stigmatization of the act of rape or being raped too great to overcome?

Are we that callous to not recognize that a woman or man has the right to say “no” when they are in an uncomfortable situation?  As a student, you should feel assured the college will help protect you, but you can also take steps to limit your vulnerability.  It has been reported that seventy-five percent of male and fifty-five percent of female students involved in date rape had been drinking or using drugs at the time that the assault occurred.  Alcohol, especially in combination with drugs, removes people’s inhibitions, leading them do things many would not have done otherwise.  If you are going to a party, then take a friend, don’t let others mix your drinks for you, and keep your beverage in sight at all times.  If you are at a party and you notice things are getting out of control, don’t ignore what is happening.  If you can’t stop the unwarranted behavior, then report it to the proper authorities.

This is not an issue to point fingers at either sex as the main culprit of these assaults, only to illustrate how commonplace this has become on campuses nationwide.  The next time you are in a class, take a look around you, and you will realize these statistics are both frightening in their ignorance of these assaults, and shocking in the volume in which they seem to occur.

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