Sexual assaults plague college campuses
A frightening rise of sexual assault cases is plaguing America. According to a Pentagon report, assaults in the nation’s military academies rose 64 percent from 2009 to 2010. In the Washington DC area, five out of eight colleges reported an increase in sexual offenses from 2007 to 2008. Other statistics reveal a widespread underreporting of sexual assaults on university campuses. The data shows that far more attacks occur than are actually reported by school authorities. When schools do not follow up on the cases appropriately, the U.S. Department of Education is then required by law to step in and investigate. In many cases however, the Department does not look into the victims’ grievances any further and the schools in violation of proper procedure are not properly penalized, reports the Center for Public Integrity. (Washington Independent)
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Victims of sexual assault often must endure horrendous intimidation and embarrassment. Many are wrongly made to feel that they should remain silent about what happened to them. This social stigma inflicts even more suffering and pain on the victims, and in worst cases, lets the criminals off the hook.
"There are some [victims] that incur this behavior for months without reporting it," said John Zacker, director of the Office of Student Conduct at the University of Maryland. The investigation process and outcomes themselves often prevent the victims from reporting assaults. Only 10 to 25 percent of the students who are found guilty of assault are even expelled from the school. (The Washington Examiner)
Daniel Carter, policy director for Security on Campus Inc., a nonprofit organization that studies safety on college campuses, said that two VA universities have previously shielded perpetrators of sexual assault.
The schools requested that both the victims and suspects sign a non-disclosure agreement about the outcome of investigations.
According to Carter, one of these colleges, The University of Virginia, has stricter rules regarding disciplinary action for cheating than for sexual assault. If a student is caught cheating on exams at
U.Va., he or she is automatically expelled, but if they are found guilty of sexual assault the school does not have a clearly defined course of action. A “culture of silence” is extremely pervasive on many college campuses and will continue to oppress victims of sexual assault said Carter.
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