Where We Live: Sexual Assault on College Campuses

Many victims drop out of school, while their alleged attackers graduate

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Jay Khemani
Shedding Light On A Hidden Problem: Campus Sexual Assault
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Shedding Light On A Hidden Problem: Campus Sexual Assault

One in five women who enter college will become a victim of rape or attempted rape before they graduate. These numbers are from a report funded by the Department of Justice. A subsequent nine-month investigation by the Center for Public Integrity shows that many victims never report the things that happen to them, and many who do end up feeling re-victimized by the process put in place to help them.

Today, Where We Live, a look at the widespread phenomenon of sexual assault on campus and the questions surrounding the way schools adjudicate crimes in-house. Universities say their mission is to educate, not to administer justice, to enforce behavioral codes, not laws. So why are schools handling serious accusations of rape and assault internally? And how do campus cultures of binge drinking and casual sex fuel a dangerous situation that can be confusing for everyone—most of all victims?

Join the conversation– leave your comments below.


  

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Email from Wesleyan President Michael Roth

All colleges and universities in this country have developed policies and procedures to prevent rape and other violent crimes. But still these problems continue. No institution can afford to be complacent in this regard. At Wesleyan there have recently been a number of important conversations concerning sexual (gender) violence/prevention, and I applaud the efforts to bring these important and difficult issues to the fore. I also want to acknowledge the work of faculty, students, and staff, which not long ago led to the revision of our sexual misconduct and assault policy as well as to the creation of our Sexual Assault Resource Team (SART). SART consists of staff who serve as resources and advocate for students reporting offenses along with an intern for Wesleyan’s Health Services. We are engaged in a search to hire a Director of Health Education whose responsibilities include prevention and education around sexual violence and health. We also will continue to seek advice and recommendations from students, faculty and parents — whether they call for a dedicated staff position or any other idea for how to better deal with these issues.

Far too often on college campuses incidents of sexual violence go unreported, and I want to express my admiration for those who courageously come forward. Irrespective of questions of guilt or innocence in any particular case, the more attention we can bring to this awful problem, the better we can address it. There have been student, parent, staff, and faculty meetings this year to discuss the steps necessary to make Wesleyan an even safer environment in which all students can thrive. In order to build on these efforts, I have asked vice-presidents Sonia Manjon (Diversity and Strategic Partnerships) and Mike Whaley (Student Affairs) to lead a task force to gather the best thinking from the faculty, students and staff that should lead to further improvements to our policies and staffing. I expect to receive their recommendations by the end of the calendar year.

Violence, including the heinous crime of sexual violence, has no place on this campus. This is a lesson that was seared into our community’s memory a year ago. It is a foundational principle here, and we welcome the opportunity to review our policies and procedures with the goal of asserting and living up to that principle as strongly and consistently as we can.

email from Wesleyan Senior Molly

I'm a senior at Wesleyan University and firstly, I want to thank both Joanna and Eve who spoke on the show this morning about their assaults. I would also like to respond to Dean Culliton's assessment that Wesleyan Students are well-informed about sexual assault policies. I went through orientation at Wesleyan and I remember that the section on sexual assault lasted about two minutes and amounted to "please don't assault other students." If that can described as informative.....

Also Dean Culliton flat out lied about the sexual assault panel. There were no faculty advisers for the victims at the hearings. This process is so unbelievably lacking in transparency as to turn it into a farce.

President Roth has acted more as a politician and less as a member of our community in all of these matters.