In Hawn, S., Kendler, K., Dick, D.,

Topics: CrimeDomestic Violence

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Last updated: September 20, 2019

In today’s paper, we will be discussing the lack ofappropriate policies in place regarding sexual assault on college anduniversity campuses. First we must define that sexual assault, for this paper,is described as nonconsensual sexual behavior forced upon one person fromanother person.

The Department of Justice complied an extensive report of thepercentage of men and women that experienced sexual assault while attendingcollege; they found that 4-6% of men and 20-25% of women reported they havebeen victims of sexual assault while in college (Conley,A., Overstreet, C., Hawn, S., Kendler, K., Dick, D.

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, & Amstadter, A. 2017). They also found that more than 90% ofsexual assault survivors do not report the assault at all (Conley, A., Overstreet, C., Hawn, S., Kendler, K., Dick, D.,& Amstadter, A.

2017). Thisshows a staggering amount of young adults constantly at risk on a collegecampus; college females are especially at risk during the first 6 weeks ofevery school year and the overall likelihood of experiencing sexual assault isgreater than a college male’s likelihood (“Sexual assault numbers on the riseon college campuses”).  College women arealso more likely to become a victim of sexual assault than women not in collegein the entire population. One of the most quoted studies of sexual assault oncollege campuses in 1987 found 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experiencesexual assault on college campuses and today the same statistics apply.

Thesame study also found that a large majority of the victims knew theirperpetrator. Sexual assault can happen on any campus; it can happen at an Ivy Leagueschool and it can happen at a state university. Some examples would be StanfordUniversity and the University of Tennessee, both having dealt with sexualassault cases that went extremely public in the past few years. For example atthe University of Tennessee, they refer to the first 8 weeks of the school year(beginning of the school year to about fall break) to be the “Red Zone”, whichis when a college student is most at risk of become a victim of sexual assault.            With the increasingamount of sexual assaults and such a large likelihood for a portion of theuniversity’s population, one would think that all universities would partake inprograms that target rape prevention, education, and victim support howeverthat is not the case. For example, out of the thousands of universities andcolleges in the United States, there are only a little over 125 involved withthe Rape Prevention and Education Programs by the Centers for Disease Controland Prevention (“Sexual assault and rape on U.S.

collegecampuses: Research roundup”). A lot of people also assume that withsuch a growing freshman students population there would be programs to educatethem on the safety precautions that go along with certain college relatedactivities, like binge drinking, unprotected sex, and consent. New freshmanquickly adapt to this new social life of alcohol and sex.

Robin Wilson writesthat “at least half of the students involved in alleged sexual assault weredrinking”, which shows that there is a link between alcohol and sexual assaultcause the belief that college binge-drinking activities perpetuate sexualassault (i.e. tailgating) (Wilson, R.

2014).             Afterreviewing all of the different factors that place college students at risk forsexual assault on a daily basis, we can a change in policies and procedures isneeded. These policies and procedures need to be focused on the protection oftheir students, supporting their students and encouraging their students to bestrong. These policies aim to maintain the campus as a safe place, continuefaculty mandatory reporting, and increase the reporting rates.                        Moving on to government orinstitutional failures that might have enabled sexual assault. The mostenabling thing a university could do is enable rape culture or the acceptanceof sexual assault.  One-way universitypolicies fail students is in training programs for the faculty and the officersfor the best ways to handle sexual assault reports. A lot of victims do notreport the assault because they are afraid to being blamed for the attack.

There have been instances of police asking questions that belittle the victimsreport, for example “how short was your skirt?” or “could he have misinterpreteddue to prior flirting?” These questions do not support or comfort a victim ofsuch an invasive crime. The questions lead victims to believe they caused theassault to happen, which is false since it doesn’t matter what the length ofher skirt was or if she said flirted with him. Consent must be verbally given,without verbal consent there is nothing. There have been previous improvementson the understanding of rape culture and certain wording that perpetuates it;however, there are still occurrences of victims being blamed.

             According to Rolling Stone magazine online, in the 2012survey of police department dispatcher 69% reported little to no training forsexual assault coding (Chemaly, 2016). The same article gives the example of anOhio 911 dispatcher in 2014 who was recorded telling as rape victim to ‘quitcrying’ and that her description was not good enough to find her perpetrator(Chemaly, 2016).  This is a great exampleof inadequate training procedures and protocols. The police departmentssurveyed, though they were not specifically university police, they still provethat there is a lack of strict protocol when it come to handle such a delicatesituation. Victims should feel comfortable when talking with a universitypolice officer (or regular police officer), university faculty orrepresentative, and/or their fellow students. This belittling is a goodrepresentation of why 90% of sexual assault and rapes go unreported. Terribletraining can turn an already unbearable situation for a victim even moreexcruciating.

One University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student reportedthat she had been raped by a UNC football player; she later then reporteduniversity police treated her like a suspect, laughed with the perpetratorabout how many phone numbers he had received the night of, and told theperpetrator to not worry and live life (Macro & Narayan, 2016) . The victim in this article also describes being asked demeaningquestions, like “did you lead him on?” and “have you hooked up with him before?(Macro & Narayan, 2016).” These questions are furtherproof sexual assault lacks importance across the country, on universitycampuses and off campus with the general public.             Another failure that universities overlook regarding sexualassault prevention is the effectiveness of their rape preventions classes. Atthe University of Tennessee, incoming freshman are require to enrolling in anonline class that covers topics like alcohol, sexual assault, and drug usage.To my recollection, you could easily speed through the class watching thevideos, guessing on the quizzes since it gave you the correct answers after yousubmitted it once, and the grade was for completion not for competence. TheUniversity of Tennessee also requires all freshman students to attendorientation; during orientation there is a program regarding sexual assault,however, I recall it only lasting about ten to fifteen minutes after nonstopprograms and walking all day.

These programs have the potential to bebeneficial at decreasing the likelihood of sexual assault, but they are notstructured the way they should be for maximum results and attention. ?           In today’s society we are constantlyseeing newsreels on the television about sexual assault cases. Recently we haveseen a lot of news about men in media sexual assaulting co-workers and/or otheracquaintances. As for campus sexual assault, we see a lot of stories of womenreporting the police neglected their case, settlements, and stricter policieson fraternities and alcohol. There is a lot of media coverage of rape culture, victimblaming, and the accusations of sexual assault (Baumgartner& McAdon, 2017).

The Baumgartner & McAdon article shows a graph of mediacoverage in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and USA Today from 1980 to2016 (Baumgartner & McAdon, 2017).  All of the spikes on the graph were due toreported campus sexual assaults often implicating a college athlete or athleticprogram (Baumgartner & McAdon, 2017).             The most recent famous rape case was at StanfordUniversity involving a university athlete. Brock Turner was accused of rapingan unconscious woman, which Stanford University handled and gave informationfound to the police (“Former Stanfordswimmer accused of raping unconscious woman on campus”).

The media was all over thisstory, both good and bad media. Some media made it a point to solely focus onwho Brock Turner was and how good of a person and athlete he was. When themedia should have been focusing on the victim and the trauma that this “goodathlete” caused her. He also received an extremely lenient sentence of only sixmonths in jail with a few years of probation with mandatory sex offender registration.Another way this case went rival was through the victim’s statement. She goeson, in great detail, describing the attack (what she remembers), the momentsafter the attack, and her pain/trauma/emotions following the assault.            Recently at the University of Tennessee there was a verypublic Title IX lawsuit resulting in a settlement of $2.48 million.

Thislawsuit involved the sexual and physical assault of eight female UT students byUT student-athletes from 2013 to 2015. The lawsuit reported that the Universityof Tennessee mishandled these eight women’s’ reports of sexual assault andviolated Title IX. There were six athletes reported as the perpetrators; threeof the men have trials for rape or domestic violence and the others were foundto violate school conduct or no criminal charges at all.             Current criticism or roadblocks preventing improvementsfor sexual assault cases on college campuses would be at times too much mediainvolvement, lack of focus on the issue (not idealizing the perpetrator), andneglecting victims as to not tarnish the universities reputation.  As we can see from the Stanford rape case,there was way too much media involvement. A rape case is not a television show,the investigation should focus on protecting the victim and ensuring that theperpetrator is apprehended and given a fair trial (fair trial means not biasedtoward the victim or the perpetrator regardless of his/her outstanding athleticabilities.

) With recently media coverage of the sexual assault accusations ofsome of the media’s most well known anchors, we have begun to see a change inhow the media addresses sexual assault. The firing of Matt Lauer can be seen asNBC taking a stand against sexual assault and addressing the issues internallyto prevent more occurrences and biases toward sexual assault.             My proposed policy changesare simple in the fact it is mostly structure and time based, but alsoextremely important when it comes to sexual assault. The first proposal wouldbe an overall change in all-training programs with the topic of sexual assault.There is a lack of understanding what sexual assault actually is and how broadthe range of sexual assault crimes really is. One survey of Texas policedepartments found that officers believed that 40 to 80% of sexual assault caseswere false and University of Texas campus police guess that 33% were false.

Aswe know from previous data discussed, 90% of sexual assaults go unreported andthe real percentage of reported sexual assault that are false is actually 2-10%(Kingkade, 2017). This shows a truly lack in knowledge when it comes to sexualassault. When officers have a negative, unbelieving, half-listening demeanorvictims are less likely to want to talk to police. A sexual assault victimalready experience a huge amount of trauma and are feeling a wide range ofemotions, it is unproductive and causes more trauma to the victim.

Thegovernment should support this change in training on campuses and nationwidebecause this affects every sexual assault victim. With any victim report thepolice have received, the victims had to come forward to speak with officers.If the officers are negative and accusatory, victims may change their mind.

Itsimportant for all officers to be supportive to victims and listen to what theyhave to say.             Another proposed policy change would be the structure ofall sexual assault prevention programs. By looking at the University ofTennessee’s prevention programs we can learn a lot.  One issue their program has is its simply tooeasy. Students can quickly and easily skip through the entire program in a fewhours. The point of sexual assault prevention programs are for the participantsto learn what sexual assault is and how to respond, prevention, and support ifone occurs. If the university wanted to keep the summer program for incomingfreshman, they could extend it and make it more challenging.

The program itselfwould not be hard, but it should require the participants to critically thinkabout the topics, sexual assault being one of the topics, and interact with theprogram. One way to have the participants critically think and interact wouldbe by having them read a story or article, next answer a few questionsregarding the story, then watch a clip or news cap about something similar tothe story, and finally more questions this time regarding the clip. After theparticipants have done those in order and in relevant time (the videos cannotfast forward), they would be give a few questions and asked to write a shortessay regarding what they saw. Students would repeat this process for theentire course; most courses would contain topics of alcohol, sexual assault,bystander intervention, studying, etc. At the end of the course, students wouldbe given an actually letter grade based on their scores and essay grades; thecourse would no longer be a completion grade resulting in a pass or fail.

Byhaving the students actually focus on the material and think about the topics,there could be improvement and a decrease in sexual assault. Incoming freshmenwould be more knowledgeable about the risks of binge drinking, learn aboutconsent and the consequences of not having clear consent, learn about the needfor bystander intervention, etc. They would also learn important rape myths,for example they would learn the same statistic the police in Texas learnedthat only 2-10% of reported rapes are false and 90% of sexual assault gounreported. Most people are under informed on such huge topics and this is thecause of negative attitudes towards survivors of assaults. The government anduniversity should support this proposal because an improvement in knowledge andunderstand of this topic would very likely decrease the risk of sexual assaultas well as increase awareness to the issues.            Universities could also implement strong programsthroughout the year and even an extra program given sophomore or junior year.To make the sexual assault prevention programs throughout the year gainexposure and increase participation, universities would need to tailor theirprograms specifically for their population demographics.

For instance, if theUniversity of Tennessee determines that at past sexual assault programs oncampus through the recent years that there is a lack of white males and AfricanAmerican females, opposite of the large portion on campus, they would need tochange how they target their participants. What has been drawing in everyoneelse that came might not draw in or intrigue white males or African Americanwomen. For the final improvement, there would to be a follow-up program givenbefore graduation. The universities could tailor their programs by choosing thesophomore or junior year to follow up. Regardless of what year chosen, studentsshould be given the option of taking a similar class over the summer or takethe class the first half of the fall semester (which is when most students areat higher risk of assault; known as the “Red Zone” at the University ofTennessee).

If the students chose the summer option, the design would besimilar to the freshman prevention program they have previously received. Thereadings and the videos would be longer and denser than the previous and theessays/quizzes would require more critical thinking. Students would be asked toexpand more on their essay topics and possible find an outside resource oftheir own for the essay. Just like the first program, the grading would be aletter grade based on the scores of all assignments (quizzes and essays).  If students chose the class during fallsemester, students would attend an hour two class once a week for the firsthalf of the semester.

All assignments would be similar to the online program,however lectures would be the main source of information. The lecturer willshow videos and assign readings. There would be no tests, only quizzes andessays (same format as online program). All grading would be the same as theonline program ensuring that one program isn’t “easier” than the other. Thepoint of the grading and the assignments is not to hinder the students with abad grade, but to show the importance of understanding these topics since theyare such prevalent topics in the adult real world and society.

Universitiesshould want both the extra program and the improvements to the regular programsthroughout the year because it will also aid in decreasing the risk of sexualassault and highly increase the knowledge of sexual assault prevalence amongthe college population. 

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