We don't have a problem with sexual assault; we have many of them. For many students, sexual assault is no longer just a flyer in the women's restroom or a program at orientation; it's a reality.
Sexual assault has become an epidemic across college campus- a widespread occurrence affecting many without a solution. College campuses work to provide programs, funding, and counseling resource centers in hopes to put an end to this problem before it starts and help the victims after it happens in hopes of not having any more. However, universities are built on a reputation that encourages donations, prospective students, and respect. Sexual assault statistics and case reports are swept under the rug to protect their reputation but not their victims.
An eighteen-year-old girl walks into the health center with mascara running down her face and asks for a rape kit. She spends the next three hours meeting with different specialists and counselors to help her piece together a night she can't remember but will never forget. A boy sits through orientation looking for tinder matches but learns that consent is more than swiping left. University therapists and counselors leave their families to help someone else's daughter. Campus police leave their sons at home to protect a campus from someone else's'.
Daughters are told to watch their drink, never walk alone, dress modestly, ignore the man at the bar. Parents buy pepper-spray keychains and warn of the men that will make her use it. But drugged girls are pulled into Ubers unable to ask the driver their name or remember their own. A long term relationship turns from admiration to assault in a freshman dorm room. Girls are waking up in fraternity houses with nothing to remember the night except 37 texts from their roommate. Students read about rape cases on the bus to class then become one that night. Girls beg to know why this happened to them, but colleges across the country beg them to be silent.
One in four college women will experience sexual assault before graduation according to the Association of American Universities, and my school is not exempt from this statistic. At a school known for its successful reputation, sexual assault is not advertised to a public of prospective students and their parents. In 2015, UGA reported four times the number of rape reports than the year before within students and faculty. But this isn't due to a more dangerous class of freshmen but a policy change. Rape culture in college is 95 percent going unreported making accuracy assessing the amount of assault nearly impossible. However, with this policy change, universities are required to not just include cases reported to campus police or within school zip code boundaries but is required to include cases that happen off campus in sexual assault records.
When it comes to reporting sexual assault, victims are presented with two main options: police departments within the university or through the county. Within the university, it is typical that a preponderance standard is followed throughout the investigation. This allows investigators to spend less time handling the investigation and giving victims the benefit of the doubt. If it's more likely than not that an instance occurred, most investigation cases a lot a 51% certainty to the case. However, a university protects the privacy of an investigation and in doing so, protects the abusers from legal trouble through punishments such as expulsion opposed to jail time.
Within county police departments, most investigators practice a "clear and convincing" model of investigation in which is more thorough. This protects against false accusations as well as develops a stronger case through data collection that is more powerful in state law. However, for victims without sufficient evidence, this process can take longer before a conclusion is reached and can be more difficult for victims involved.
This epidemic isn't specific to UGA and isn't one with a cure. For victims without evidence, UGA offers resources but not always restitution. For those with evidence, UGA avoids a county standard of punishment for abusers. UGA doesn't have a solution to end sexual assault on campus; it has many of them. They have solutions to a problem they won't admit to having.