In 2016, student Brock Turner was infamously tried and convicted for raping a woman outside a fraternity party. His sentence was a mere slap on the wrist at just three months, and would demonstrate how common this type of attack is on campus and—even more shockingly—how often perpetrators get away with it. According to the government’s Department of Justice, 25 percent of female college students will experience sexual assault before they reach graduation. Sexual violence on campus is more likely to affect minority groups, too. In 2016, UC San Diego School of Medicine Center on Gender Equity and Health reported that one in three transgender students had been raped or sexually assaulted. Perhaps more chilling is that an estimated 95 percent of incidents of rape on campus go unreported, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
These dire statistics solidify the fact that more protection, preventative measures and support systems need to be implemented into colleges nationwide to tackle this widespread problem. Many schools are working to lower disturbing cases of sexual violence on campus by increasing the number of security officers and bystander intervention programs and educating students on the meaning of consent.
How can we protect ourselves?
The blame for any type of assault always, always, lies with the perpetrator and victims are not at fault. In the current climate, however, there are some precautions students can take to minimize their risk of an attack.
Stay in groups. Whether at night or not, walk, travel or attend gatherings with a group of trusted friends. Keep an eye on each other and hold each other accountable to ensure safety. If you do go somewhere by yourself, let people know where you are going and what time to expect you home.
Be self-aware. Excessive alcohol consumption can make students more vulnerable to dangerous situations. Know your limits when it comes to alcohol and keep drinks covered and with you at all times.
Trust your instincts. If you find yourself in a situation you feel unsafe in or around people that you have a bad feeling about, then leave immediately.
Attend a self-defence class. Some colleges, including Ivy League university Cornell, hold self-defence courses for students to better prepare them for such an eventuality.
of all students in the US experience sexual assault
After sexual assault
Experiencing sexual assault can lead to significant mental health issues and deeply impact college life from academia to forming relationships. Take these steps if you have suffered sexual assault on campus:
- Call 911 and report the incident as soon as you can.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible to treat injuries and collect vital evidence.
- Speak with someone. Use your college counseling service or contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline on 1-800-656-4673.
- Work with your tutors and instructors to arrange time off from academic responsibilities so that you can heal, both mentally and physically.
Visit rainn.org for more information and advice on sexual assault on campus.