College students are rightfully concerned about their safety on-campus making it harder for universities to sweep sexual assault issues under the rug, but some are on the fence about questioning whether it is ethical to challenge the victim’s claims and the harshness the perpetrators receive.
MIT student activist Larkin Sayre promoting the “It’s on Us” campaign says, “It’s a tough line to tread because the blame should still be on the perpetrator, but you also want to protect these people.” Sayre added, “Telling women to not get too drunk or wear too short a skirt, feels wrong.”
The Obama administration has created the “It’s on Us” in efforts to address the on-campus sexual assault issue going on across the country. At the campaign’s launch back in September, President Obama said, “To the survivors who are leading the fight against sexual assault on campuses, your efforts have helped start a movement. I can only imagine how long and lonely your fight must feel. And that’s why we’re all here today to say that it’s not on you; it’s not your fight to wage alone; it’s on us, all of us, to fight campus sexual assault. You are not alone. We’ve got your back.”
Commentator George Will argued against statistics gathered by the CDC, stating that 1 in 5 women enrolled in U.S. colleges will experience on-campus sexual assault, saying that universities’ attempts at creating victim-free campuses is a contradiction to the progressivism stance the government and universities has taken in a hook-up campus culture.
In his Washington Post column, George Will downplayed those victims whom are considered of privilege. “Now the Obama administration is riding to the rescue of ‘sexual assault’ victims. It vows to excavate equities from the ambiguities of the hookup culture, this cocktail of hormones, alcohol and the faux sophistication of today’s prolonged adolescence of especially privileged young adults.”
Will received national backlash, and was uninvited to speak at Scripps College, a women’s liberal arts college in Claremont, California back in October. Scripps President Lori Bettison-Varga released a statement defending Scripps’ disinvitation. “After Mr. Will authored a column questioning the validity of a specific sexual assault case that reflects similar experiences reported by Scripps students, we decided not to finalize the speaker agreement.”
Scripps College might have uninvited Will, but Will’s invitation at Miami University went on Oct. 22 uninterrupted. At the $48,000 University paid speech, Will didn’t touch on the subject of sexual assault in his speech, but students with questions did.
One female student expressed that the Pulitzer Prize-winning commentator had trivialized college campus sexual assaults in his June column. Will responded by stating, “I’ve written columns since 1973, but the one you are talking about has certainly gotten the attention of this campus.”
Miami University has preventative measures as stated in their rape guide such as “Nighttime Door to Door” which comforts students with an escort to their dorm rooms; the WAVES and MARS programs which include women and men against sexual violence; and a first-year student summer orientation program addressing on-campus sexual assault.
Yet in 2012, a college flier made the headlines at Miami University titled “Top Ten Ways to Get Away with Rape.” Miami University was criticized for not informing the students of such a flier that had threats from slicing girl’s throats to drugging their drinks. “It could have been a joke, but the fact of the matter is that those thoughts are crossing someone’s mind. There are girls living in a hall where someone came up with that. It’s just disturbing,” said Kate Van Fossen to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Lincoln University president, Robert Jennings delivered a speech in September addressing a female student based crowd stating, “We have, we had, on this campus last semester three cases of young women who after having done whatever they did with young men and then it didn’t turn out the way they wanted it to turn out, guess what they did? They then went to Public Safety and said, ‘He raped me.’”
Since the controversial comments were made, Jennings has delivered an apology stating he was attempting to emphasize mutual respect and personal responsibility and regrets his choice of words. Some students perceived Jennings’ speech as victim-blaming.
Under the Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, people are protected from discrimination based on sex in education programs. Women are free from sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination and athletic program inequalities. Such actions taken against any law of the United States should be presented with consequences.
In an editorial comment, Melissa Harris-Perry of MSNBC criticized the Lincoln University President on Nov. 15 by saying, “President Jennings, you implied that an ‘accusation of rape’ could ruin a young man’s life. Maybe what you need to think about is what an ‘act of rape’ can do to a young woman’s. And you should be held accountable for encouraging survivors to be silent.”
Do you believe on-campus sexual assaults are being undermined with the use of a new tactic?
Is scapegoating the issue by victim-blaming helping or hurting university administrators’ reputation with the public?