If you were the victim of sexual assault while at school, you would expect that something would be done about it. Unfortunately, there are now nearly 80 colleges and universities under federal investigation due to Title IX violations stemming from how the institutions of higher education handle reports of sexual assault. Hint: it’s not well.
Many times, when sexual assault or rape is reported on college campuses, the consequences hardly match the crime. Then there are the times when instead of the rapist being punished, the victim is blamed because they were too drunk or too scantily clad to have a legitimate complaint.
Take for example the case of a young woman who was raped after a party at the University of Kansas last year. She had been drinking, and was assisted back to the dorms by a fellow student. The young woman was raped, she reported the attack, and the young man later confessed to the campus police that he had continued to have sex with her after she said, “no,” “stop,” and “I can’t do this.”
Even with the confession, the local police refused to prosecute the male student for sexual assault. The local district attorney announced on September 3 that he will consider filing charges in the case due to receiving new information. The alleged attack happened on October 18, 2013.
The school did take action against the male student, punishing him by putting him on probation, banning him from campus housing, and telling him to write a four-page paper. KU also considered giving him community service, but it was decided that measure was too “punitive.” In the meantime, the young woman was threatened with arrest for underage drinking at the party before the alleged rape.
“People need to know how little attention this is being given when they do come forward to the university,” the young woman said about the lenient punishment and lack of support from local law enforcement to the Huffington Post.
“You get serious consequences for plagiarizing, and you get horrible consequences if you have a six-pack of beer in your dorm. I think this is more serious than those, and it’s given very little attention.”
Another young woman who was the victim of rape is taking matters into her own hands to get others to pay attention to her case. She says she was raped by a classmate on the first day of her sophomore year at Columbia University. Now a senior, she has designed her senior thesis to aid in her protest that rapist has been allowed to remain on campus.
In May, she wrote in Time what her experience has been like. “Every day, I am afraid to leave my room. Even seeing people who look remotely like my rapist scares me. Last semester I was working in the dark room in the photography department. Though my rapist wasn’t in my class, he asked permission from his teacher to come and work in the dark room during my class time. I started crying and hyperventilating. As long as he’s on campus with me, he can continue to harass me.”
Her protest is simple act of carrying around a twin-sized dorm mattress similar to the one on which she was attacked. She intends to carry it “for as long as I attend the same school as my rapist.”
Sexual assault and rape are serious issues on college campuses. It’s not a growing trend, but rather a trend that is gaining much more attention that it has in years past. Hopefully, with the added attention, victims may finally get the justice they deserve.
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Video by the Columbia Daily Spectator