The big grassy fields, colonial and brick buildings, sense of community, and a chance at education are reasons people are drawn to committing to a university or college. It is safe to say that a university provides people the opportunities and activities to be involved and explore campus culture and lifestyle in more ways than one. The social scene on campus is a driving force that allows this involvement and commitment to form. However, in today's modern college environment, a simple scene of socialization can easily face the repercussions of being monopolized by instances of sexual harassment or sexual assault. Statistics produced by Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, or RAINN, the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization, states that 13% of all students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation (among all graduate and undergraduate students.) As college students, we all have the chance of falling victim.
The problem of sexual assault on college campuses leaves students, administration, parents, and the well-being of humanity at risk. Combatting this persistent issue calls for an effort by society, communities, and individuals on and off campuses. We can all educate ourselves and be prepared to take action when presented with sexual misconduct or witnessing such heinous acts. Additionally, students must seek help and reach out to specific groups to help identify the situation and address traumas to eventually find peace within themselves and reaccept their community as a safe environment. We must normalize the stigmatized idea of shame behind being a victim of sexual assault at a societal level.
Sexual assault-related behaviors and actions on college campuses have been a pressing issue for students and the surrounding cultural environment. Sexual violence affects the mental health and well-being of many students. Sexual assault victims and survivors may have difficulty with their academic performance and ability to maintain relationships with family and friends after going through their experiences. Not only do victims experience an internal conflict, but it also affects the loved ones around them.
Sexual assault is not a new issue, and although students have fought to end the systematic culture of sexual violence, it persists on college campuses. Many occurrences of sexual assault on college campuses stem from students who participate in Greek Life through fraternities. With little to no authoritative supervision, Greek Life, especially fraternities, is exposed to risky behavior and violation of the rules. Greek life is a driving factor that entices students to commit to a university. Therefore, we must break down the stigmatized system to redefine fraternities' purpose as philanthropic activities and networking opportunities.
Speaking up about being a victim of sexual assault may be very difficult for survivors, and many rapes and sexual assault incidents go unreported. Most survivors choose not to report their experience with sexual assault because it can be emotionally draining and time-consuming and cause many attackers to continue their actions. After all, they are going unnoticed. Victims feel neglected, ignored, and shamed due to the stigmatized concept of the corrupt process of reporting sexual assault. Society must stray away from "victim blaming" and turn towards educating both males and females about placing blame on the offender. When you uncover the layers of a college campus, you may learn about dangerous and alarming situations that may make you fear for your safety. College-age victims of sexual violence often do not report to law enforcement. There is a stigma around speaking up to someone about your experience because the victim may fear getting their attacker in trouble.
Furthermore, reporting your assault or harassment may face corrupt administration and reporting system issues. According to statistics produced by RAINN, "only 20% of female student victims, age 18-24, report to law enforcement," and only "32% of nonstudent females the same age do make a report." Speaking up will help raise awareness about sexual assault in a community. Holding the attacker accountable for their actions will ensure they do not get away with misconduct and prevent harming more people. Pushing to normalize reporting situations like sexual assault will allow individuals to willingly get the help they need and find peace within themselves that their offender has faced repercussions.
One solution to counter the issue of sexual assault on college campuses is the blue-light emergency system, as it dominates campus culture and provides a sense of security. The infrastructure serves to assuage emergent concerns about campus safety. The blue-light system ultimately allows for a community to feel connected. With parents in a state of peace, administration and the overall progression of a college campus can run smoothly and attract more applicants. The construction of highly visible telecommunication allows individuals caught in a high-pressure sexual assault situation to have a chance to escape. The tall and bright structures allow quick and efficient access to help because they directly connect to campus police. These phones are more convenient than memorizing the campus police phone number. Since the phones connect directly to campus police, response time will likely be faster than calling local police from your cell phone. Since a victim may have little to no control over their body or possessions, the blue-light system structures accommodate that likely situation. It is likely that a student is intoxicated and loses their phone or the battery is dead. The strategically placed phones provide a reliable way to get help. The blue strobe light is activated when a call is made, quickly alerting others of a nearby dilemma. As a result, the victim has the hope of someone helping their capless self.
Activism to prevent sexual assault cases on college campuses traces back to the blue-light emergency phones installed nationwide. Many college campuses have started building an adequate on-campus sexual assault prevention infrastructure to provide necessary resources to everyone. The administration can build an effective on-campus sexual assault prevention infrastructure. This so called infrastrucutre refers to implementing organizational systems such as staffing, committees, and resources offered to the students and staff in fighting against sexual assaults. Staff must know current evidence on strategies that prevent sexual violence to help students and other campus committee members resolve their concerns. They will also be the ones who will take part and respond to sexual assaults and help change and shift the campus culture. Committees and teams can bring awareness to the relevance of sexual assault. Collaboration and communication across campus help students and other administration members be aware of the valuable on-campus resources and provide them with the steps necessary to feel safer.
In efforts to end sexual assault incidents and rape culture on college campuses, we can work to implement Bystander Intervention Programs at all universities. Bystander Intervention Programs teach students to use Direct, Delegate, and Distract methods when involved in a dangerous situation. Awareness is the first step to addressing a problem and moving towards progression to overcome the issue of sexual assault on campuses. By learning to be a positive and active bystander, you may help prevent a situation before it even happens, ultimately saving the victim from the challenges and trauma of experiencing sexual violence. Being a bystander requires strong morals and confidence. To help stop sexual assault and harassment incidents on college campuses, bystander intervention programs should be enforced through Greek Life, specifically through the IFC (Interfraternity Council).
Sexual assault on college campuses is an unfortunate reality that causes long-term issues for victims. Steps have been taken, and universities across the country have implemented policies to help prevent future occurrences, but there is always more that we can do. A proactive approach needs to be taken by all colleges and universities. Intervention, recognition, and awareness should not stop with clicking through one required class but continuously be offered and supported by all colleges and universities. The sake of humanity is at hand.
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