College Safety For Women

Amanda Pallini

Ever since mankind was created there was an obvious divide between man and woman. For years men held jobs while women cleaned, men fought while women were polite all the time, men were educated when women stayed home and watched the kids. The patriarchy stood strong until the 1970’s when a feminist group coined the term rape culture. Rape culture is defined as a complex set of beliefs that encourage male sexual aggression and supports violence against women (WAVAW). Rape culture is designed to recognize the fact that women are blamed for being raped while men are excused for their actions instead of being held accountable. As rape culture is a problem all over the country a big part of the problem has to do with college campuses.

Although colleges are responsible for the safety of their students they are not willing to report all incidents of rape due to the fact that it could damage their reputation. In American society men are taught to be sexually active and aggressive while women are taught to be sexually passive (Young). This is demonstrated on campuses when a woman is raped and reports it. The vast majority of sexual assaults on campus are not reported (Steinhauer). This is because women are often blamed for being attacked. When they do report a rape often times the first question the admin asks is were you drinking? Or what were you wearing (The Hunting Ground). The female is often times told it was her fault for acting a certain way yet the person who sexually assaulted her is given a slap on the wrist because they didn’t know any better. This is extremely prominent on college campuses where authority disregards the fact that most, if not all, students know rape is illegal (Young).

A few progressive actions that were taken was the passing of Title IX in 1972 which prohibits the discrimination of a student based on sex. Title IX guarantees women an equal opportunity to education as men and protects females from discrimination. While title IX was made mainly for the purposes of education it can be used, in some cases, as a defense against sexual predators (The Hunting Ground) . Under Title IX,  allowing a sexual assailant to continue to live on campus with their victim can provide an unfair advantage to the male sex. Using Title IX it is possible to have an attacker removed from campus if the school refuses to do so. Title IX however can only be enforced if the school recognizes the incident as an act of sexual assault (Cantu). Many  times colleges won’t recognize an attack as a sexual assault for fear of tarnishing their image as well as losing donors (Cantu).

Colleges are mandated to report all cases of sexual assault to the government but don’t because it is in their best interest not to (The Hunting Ground). The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting 2016 Edition states that every college is required to have a crime log in which every crime reported must be recorded. This report must be updated within two to three business days of the reporting and be accessible to the public (Wilson, Amy). This rule however does not apply to colleges that have law enforcement personnel on or near the campus, if the campus has security in rented classroom space, or if there is someone on campus with limited responsibility for safety (Wilson). Schools often use this as loopholes to avoid reporting a rape case to the police. This has lead to an inaccurate representation of an epidemic on college campuses. Nearly forty five percent of colleges reported zero sexual assaults in 2012 (The Hunting Ground). Out of all of the cases that have been reported only twenty percent are prosecuted and only twenty six percent lead to arrest (The Hunting Ground). This causes people to be able to get away with raping someone and a development of a norm in which sexual assault is part of the college experience (The Hunting Ground).

Due to this norm men are often times forgiven for sexually assaulting another person. This is a problem especially in schools which house fraternities. Less than eight percent of the college population commit more than ninety percent of the sexual assault and it mostly occurs in fraternities (The Hunting Ground ). Fraternities are common places where sexual assault occurs. This stigma is attached because of a few fraternities with signs that “read leave your daughters with us” or have hazing practices which include chanting “no means yes and yes means anal” repeatedly outside freshmen dorms (Samuels).  Often times when a sexual assaults in a fraternity are not handled by the college. The college will take the complaint but not file any charges because technically the fraternity is not on campus; therefore it is not the school’s responsibility to report a sexual assault (Wilson ). According to the handbook, on-campus includes “any building or property owned or controlled by an institution within the same… geographic area and used by the institution in direct support of… the institution’s educational purposes , including residence halls” (Wilson ). However, fraternities and sororities are excused from this rule as they are considered on campus yet not under the school’s jurisdiction. In other words the school ignores the incidents that occur at these houses as they are not required to report the crimes.

To prevent sexual assaults on campuses, Title IX and The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting 2016 Edition require that all schools provide students and staff with a prevention strategy. Schools are required to have some type of on-going prevention system for sexual assault yet in most cases this prevention is simply a presentation on how to avoid being raped instead of emphasizing that rape is wrong. Once again undermining women and blaming the victim. This cycle of unconsciously promoting the inferiority of women continues to damage our campuses as colleges ignore rape claims and blame the victim.

However, colleges are not the only ones to blame. Companies with a substantial following will promote rape culture without realizing the influence they have on college kids. For example Bud Light, a popular beer company, released its new slogan “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night. #upforanything” (Strom). Not only does this support rape it indirectly perpetuates rape because a majority of college students drink beer. College students see this and inadvertently may start to think of rape as acceptable. Some more examples of this are song lyrics by popular artists like Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and the popular 1940s christmas song “Baby It’s Cold Outside”. Both of these songs, popular in their own right, are known by millions and subliminally erase the idea of rape from people’s minds. Even television shows take part in this. In the popular series Game of Thrones there are multiple rape scenes in which women can be heard yelling no as they are sexually assaulted (Ferreday). As more and more popular outlets begin to downgrade the status of women college campuses suffer. Students are learning from the media that it is ok to rape someone either because the school will do nothing about it or they see no problem with it.