January 30, 2014 by gregrabidoux2013
On campuses across our country, both private and public, female students are being sexually assaulted and raped in increasing numbers. What’s worse, after suffering the physical and mental anguish and trauma of such attacks, many are then left praying and waiting for justice. Justice, that for many, never comes.
Part of the reason is that in a number of instances, campus administrators first priority seems to be trying to sweep the incident under the rug. Let’s face it, sexual assaults, especially rapes are not good for business. Tends to discourage new recruits from enrolling. Tends to make parents of prospective parents think twice about entrusting the lives of their daughters to a campus with sexually motivated violence.
And with the average cost of going to college these days spiraling out of control (average 4 year public school is $22,000 per year and private is up to $35,000 annually) what college administrator can afford to lose too many of these cash cows before they start having to shut its doors?
In 2011, Amherst College female student Angie Epifano was raped by an acquaintance. Despite her pleas to counselors, administrators and campus police she was discouraged from pressing charges as this apparently, would hurt the Amherst “brand.” Her request to change dorm rooms was denied and just to make sure she was treated with dignity and respect the police checked her into a psychiatric ward.
In 2010, Sasha Courey, a 19 year old female, attending the University of Missouri on a swim team scholarship was allegedly raped by not 1, not 2, but 3 male players on the U of MO Tigers football team. Another member of the team even claimed to have seen a video tape of the rape where young Sasha could be heard begging for them to stop and repeatedly screaming “No.”
Despite her pleas to university officials, including a counselor, the attack was not reported to Columbia, MO Police. Her parents even today are still demanding the University investigate the rape. Officials claim jurisdictional issues and say it’s a matter for other authorities. Only after a recent ESPN report about this tragedy did the local police finally say they’d look into the incident.
In the wake of the attack, Sasha struggled with bouts of heightened anxiety and depression. She simply could not cope with both being a victim twice. First at the hands of her brutal attackers. Then, again, from the deafening silence of those she thought would at least try to bring her justice.
In February of 2011, Sasha, this once vibrant, student-athlete with a bright future took her own life. Finally, her pain subsided.
Recently, President Obama declared that it was time to “take a stand” on sexual assaults on campuses across our nation.
The President declared that ” No one is more at risk of being raped or sexually assaulted than women at our nation’s colleges or universities.” And he called upon our male students to “summon the bravery and to stand up along with us.”
He also established a White House Task Force to generate proposals to address what his Administration is now calling “a public health epidemic.”
The White House Council on Women and Girls also released some very troubling statistics that every parent and student needs to be aware of as we engage in a collective debate as how best to “cure” this epidemic.
Nearly 2 out of every 5 female students will be assaulted at some point during college. Out of fear, out of a belief it will make no difference, perhaps both, well over 85% of all sexual assaults go unreported. The majority of campus rapes will be committed by an acquaintance of the victim. Over 65% of the rapists are repeat offenders, with at least 30% of them committing 6 or more rapes during their college days.
Regrettably, life outside of college doesn’t ensure safety from such attacks. Over 22 million females and 1.6 million males will be the victim of sexual assaults at one point in their lifetime.
Clearly, this is an issue that should concern all of us.
But why is President Obama speaking out now and is it really a problem appropriate for federal intervention?
Besides being a husband and a father to two girls quickly becoming college age as he pointed out, the president is also concerned that far too many of our colleges and universities are simply not complying with the law.
Title IX prohibits gender discrimination in higher education, and certainly, looking the other way, discouraging the pressing of charges or knowingly not taking action against male perpetrators clearly violates this Act. Also, the Violence Against Women Act and the Clery Act have a number of provisions that require all schools to disclose the number and type of all crimes that occurred on their campus.
However, organizations like Students Active For Ending Rape (SAFER) claim that over 35% of all schools routinely violate these provisions. They also “grade” each school. And it’s not just students whose grades may be slipping. SAFER says 80% of colleges get a “C” or below and nearly 25% get a flat “F” when it comes to ensuring campus safety and complying with federal laws.
We are simply not keeping our promise to do the right thing for our women on campuses across our nation. We are putting the business of making profit and protecting a certain university or college “Brand” ahead of protecting its most precious commodity-its students. Or, maybe we’ve already forgotten the lessons learned at Penn State University?
Look, I’ve taught full-time and as an adjunct at various universities and colleges, public and private, for over 15 years. I’ve heard all the tired and frankly, empty excuses attempting to condone or diminish this problem. I know far too many of our young women and men get caught up doing things they shouldn’t. Drugs, alcohol, letting their guard down at places and with people they should not.
But still. Rape is never justified. And the “crime” of making poor social decisions never makes a woman fair game for being raped or sexually assaulted.
And while I realize it is not just to place all the blame at the doorsteps of our campus administrators it is equally irresponsible to pass up their doors when doling out the blame.
Sure, like everything, it starts at home. Young boys raised to respect young girls tend to grow into men who respect women. And young girls properly schooled on what you can and cannot do when on your own tend to make wiser and possibly, life-saving decisions.
Our Colleges and Universities need to take a stand along with our president on this issue and fully commit to putting their students first. If not now, when?
There is progress. More campuses are raising awareness, holding workshops, taking preventive measures. But it’s when the rubber hits the road that our colleges simply cannot blink. Because, as Dr. King said, there’s never a wrong time to do the right thing. In all instances. And ensuring that our women, and yes, also our men, graduate never knowing the trauma that Sash and Angie knew all too well is the right thing to do.
Because what they ended up paying for their tuition was too high a price.
Peace. Please read more below the Tiger about how you, yes you, can help prevent such assaults to the future…..
Do you agree that we need to do more, much more to protect our women on college campuses across America? To protect for that matter all of our students from sexual assault, rape and the emotional trauma from being victimized?
Of course you do.
But how can you, one person, make a difference?
It starts with getting armed with the facts. Below are several web sites I’d encourage you to click on to learn more. The first one is a national organization advocating on behalf of victims everywhere and is working to help educate and prevent sexual assaults. You can email them and find out ways you can help make a difference, right now, in your community.
And of course, if you have any questions or want more information on how to help contact me directly.
Get involved today so someone you love won’t ever have to be a victim in the future.