Campus Sexual Assault Bill Provides Support for College Women

As college women returned to campus this month, their biggest concerns should have been the cost of books or which clubs to join. Instead, they bear the burden of fearing for their own safety.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY)

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY)

Sexual violence against women is a global concern, reaching into every part of society. College campuses are no different; a study by the U.S. Department of Justice declares that 1 in 5 women on college campuses have experienced a form of sexual assault.

This statistic certainly instills fear in college women who read it, but it has obviously not instilled enough fear in administrators on campus. Senator Claire McCaskill’s (D-MO) campus sexual assault survey revealed that 41 percent of four year colleges have not conducted a sexual assault investigation in five years.

Too often, the responsibility of preventing sexual assault is placed on women. They are told not to dress “too provocatively” or drink “too much,” and, if they do, the assault is considered their own fault.

Women are taught to use tools, like the much joked about “rape whistle” or the new digital age protection, smartphone apps, as a defense mechanism against potential predators.

It is important to note that not all sexual assaults are perpetrated by a man against a woman. However, for female rape survivors, 98.1 percent of the time a man was the perpetrator.Given this statistic, stronger action must be taken to educate men about consent, equivalent to the actions more frequently taken to teach women about defense.

The apparent trend in our society is that women are constantly expected to accept accountability for sexual assault, rather than the perpetrators or the institutions that allow these crimes to continue.

There is some hope that accountability will finally begin to fall on the shoulders of those who deserve it with the introduction of a new bill in Congress.

In July, New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced a bill called the Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA), a bipartisan effort to change policy on college campuses in order to provide women with the support they need in both preventing sexual assault and providing safe resources for survivors after the fact.

As the above statistics show, many college campuses do not devote sufficient resources to sexual assault. Gillibrand’s bill aims to eliminate this negligence by requiring campus staff and encouraging students to go through comprehensive training that will teach them how to effectively intervene in situations that put students in danger and how to assist a survivor in finding safe and comfortable resources.

Survivors of sexual assault experience high rates of depression, trauma disorders, and self-harm. CASA will work to remove stigma and provide specialized support for survivors through the creation of sexual assault resource centers and the placement of designated trained staff on campuses.

An overwhelming 95 percent of sexual assaults on campus go unreported and 97 percent of perpetrators walk away without punishment. Women are discouraged to report these crimes and therefore, justice is never served. CASA proposes to give women a voice by punishing academic institutions guilty of underreporting sexual assault and increasing campus communication with law enforcement surrounding cases of sexual assault.

2 Responses to “Campus Sexual Assault Bill Provides Support for College Women”

  1. Jacqueline S. Gmaz

    My daughter, enrolled in St. Mary’s College of Maryland, was recently attacked by a fellow male student. She successfully fought off an attempted rape. This horrible incident was brought up before an external adjudicator, Keira Martone, Monday, October 6, 2014. She found him not responsible. Where is the justice? My daughter was sleeping, and was awakened by a knock on the door in the morning hours. She slipped on her jeans thinking it was one of the women on the floor where she resides who needed to use the air conditioner she has in her room. He shoves his way in, punches her three times in the head, rips off her shirt and bruises her and gives her hickeys on her chest and back. She fought him off and ran to the bathroom and he ran out of the dorm. She was ashamed to tell anyone, even us, her parents. It wasn’t until she was eating in the dining hall that her friends found out what happened. This wretch put his hands on her shoulders and whispered he would be back for some more fun and walked away. She had a panic attack and her friends got out of her what had happened and called campus security. She called home right after and we took her to Walter Reed to be seen by the emergency room personnel. Although faded, hickeys, bruises, and the lumps on her head were discernible. She was told to give to the public safety person on campus, Clinton Brantley, a record that she had been seen by a doctor. She gave him the patient instructions she was sent home with and was told this was sufficient. The external adjudicator, Keira Martone, felt otherwise. We will call the dean of students, Leonard Brown, the public safety person, Clinton Brantley, and the Title IX person she hasn’t seen yet, Kristen McGeeney, and see if someone can explain to us why there is no justice. He is being allowed to continue his schooling as if nothing happened. Meanwhile, my daughter has hours long crying jags, panic attacks, and had to change dorm rooms because she would hide under her bed crying because she didn’t feel safe. What can we do to ensure her safety?

    Reply
    • Caitlin Gullickson

      I am so sorry to hear that happened your daughter. Sadly, attacks like that are far too common on college campuses across the country. We will continue to work to make the Campus Accountability and Safety Act a reality.

      Reply

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