Colleges Are Covering Up The Issue Of Sexual Assault

Colleges Are Covering Up The Issue Of Sexual Assault

This is a growing problem, and it needs to stop NOW
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Why is sexual assault such a recurring problem on college campuses in the United States? Why is there such little talk about it, when it is one of the most rapidly growing problems amongst eighteen to twenty-two year olds? Why is it that 1- in - 5 women are sexually assaulted during their time in college?

The problem lies in the fact that college officials, athletic directors, and campus police have been brushing these cases under the rug in order to save face and continue to generate revenue from the influx of students to their schools. No one wants to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for their child to attend a school where they may be sexually assaulted, so colleges hide these allegations. By setting the precedent of little to no consequences for committing rape or sexual assault, these adults who are in power are perpetuating rape culture on college campuses.

I recently watched CNN’s “The Hunting Ground”, an exposé detailing the frequency of campus rape and the dismissal of it by school presidents, officials, and police officers. Yes, I said police officers. Let me start by saying that I am not advocating for or against this documentary, but many of the facts that it presented were quite shocking and disturbing to me, pushing me to write this article. Although this documentary was criticized very harshly by many on its biased view of the events it portrayed, I have found through more research that the majority of the facts it presented are true.

One of the main stories that was brought up in "The Hunting Ground", which struck me deeply, was that of Erica Kinsman. She wasa student at Florida State University when she became the victim of rape. Erica immediately went to campus police and the Tallahassee police department the morning after her assault, and had a rape kit done at a nearby hospital. Over a month later, police finally identified her rapist as FSU’s rising football star Jameis Winston, and waited another two weeks to contact him about the incident. A few weeks later, Tallahassee police closed the case without ever hearing from Winston or any key witnesses, one of which filmed part of the sexual assault.

After no repercussions for her rapist, Erica Kinsman decided to pursue a Title IX investigation through FSU’s code of conduct proceedings. At this time a second student accused Winston of sexual assault, and the Dean of Students sent an email to FSU’s Policy Chief stating that Winston would not have any disciplinary hearings for either of these cases. Almost a year after her rape, the DNA collected from Erica’s rape kit is finally tested and matched to Winston. However, the State Attorney’s office announced that Winston would not be charged, and the Tallahassee police’s investigation was closed. Another year passed, and FSU finally decides to hold multiple hearings; Erica answered all 153 questions asked of her, and Winston refused to answer all but 3 questions. Over two years after her rape, Erica Kinsman’s case was dismissed by an FSU hearing officer that “found Winston not responsible for rape” even though his 3 answers clearly displayed that he violated FSU’s specific student consent policy requiring verbal consent in sexual encounters.

After watching Erica’s tragic story unfold, I am appalled at the way this situation was handled. The Department of Education suggests that all cases of this nature be resolved within 60 days of the accusation. Why, then, did FSU decide to stretch this incident out over more than two years, and not even test the rape kit for almost a full year after the offense? As a victim, Erica did everything right: she notified the school and local police, went to the hospital and had a rape kit administered, and gave the authorities all of the information that she knew. So why did the police not obtain security footage from the bar that Erica Kinsman was at to identify the man she left with? And why did they wait so long to contact Winston?

As was portrayed in other segments of “The Hunting Ground”, many schools have acted similarly to the FSU case. Colleges protect their student athletes because they view these individuals as a source of tremendous income towards the institution. But ask yourself: is monetary gain really a more worthy cause than bringing rapists to justice? Are donations really worth the tradeoff of obstructing justice for victims of sexual assault, often causing a multitude of negative side affects that will stick with the victim for the rest of their life? When did financial gain become more important to educational institutions than the safety and well being of students?

In this country, it is Title IX of the Education Amendments that calls for “the nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance”. This law also acts as a tool for those fighting against sexual assault and rape, because being sexually assaulted in your learning environment results in the denial of access to equal educational opportunities for those victims. Under this title, it is breaking federal law when victims of sexual assault are being swept aside and silenced on college campuses.

It has been found that 88 percent of sexual assaults that occur on college campuses are not reported. But that statistic makes sense in light of the atmosphere that college officials have fostered. If large-scale cases like Erica Kinsman’s can be dismissed not only by the Dean, but various other school officials, AND the local police force, then why would anyone have hope that their situation would be brought to justice? The attitude set forth by college administrators is that they do not like to bring attention towards sexual assault on their campus; therefore, the students committing these crimes get off with little or no penalties for their actions. This creates an unwelcoming and unhelpful environment for victims of sexual assault, and pushes victims to not report what has happened to them.

In a recent survey, 95 percent of college presidents who participated said that they handle sexual assault “appropriately”. However, many institutions hide incidents of sexual assault from public knowledge, and give the offenders a day of community service or a day of suspension from classes as punishment. If this is the “appropriate” response for sexual assault, then I have a serious problem with our system of higher education. Out in the real world, convicted rapists serve years in prison for this crime, and some get sentenced to life behind bars based on their circumstance. So what makes college students and athletes immune to the real world consequences of sexually assaulting another human being? It simply does not make sense to me.

In order to bring about change, people must start advocating for victims of sexual assault. As noted in “The Hunting Ground”, in many top colleges, professors and other officials have been fired when they begin to seriously advocate for transparency and increased action towards sexual assault on campus. This only proves that colleges have become institutions focused more on their reputations than the well being of their students. That is sickening, and needs to change.

No college wants to be the first to admit to full accountability in regards to the actual number of sexual assaults that take place on its campus, which is why we need to push for ALL colleges to become open and transparent in this matter. The first step towards change is knowledge, and the second step is action. Hopefully, you as a reader, will continue to educate yourself on this pressing issue, and share your knowledge with others to help bring about the changes that colleges these days so desperately need.

Cover Image Credit: http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1473418/images/o-RAPE-facebook.jpg

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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Terrors Behind "Toddlers & Tiaras" - Beauty Pageants Need To Go!

Why Honey Boo Boo is not the girl we should be idolizing...

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Honey Boo Boo is famous for her extravagant persona, extreme temper tantrums, overwhelming attitude, and intense sassiness. All of these qualities are shared by many other young girls who participate in beauty pageants - not just in "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" but also in TLC's notorious "Toddlers & Tiaras," a show that depicts the horrors of little girls who have dedicated their childhood to winning the crown.

These shows, and the pageants they glorify do nothing but force girls to grow up too quickly, send negative messages to viewers and participants and pose health risks for the girls involved.

Therefore, beauty pageants for young girls should be abolished.

The hypersexualization that takes place in these pageants is staggering. Not only are young girls' minds molded into having a superficial view on beauty, but they are also waxed, spray-tanned, given wigs, retouched in pictures, injected with Botox and fillers, and painted with fake abs and even breasts.

Sexy is the goal, not cute. Girls of ages 2-12 wear skimpy clothing, accentuating only their underdeveloped bodies. A 4-year-old girl on "Toddlers and Tiaras" once impersonated Dolly Parton with fake breasts, another dressed as Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman (so basically, a prostitute), and another even pretended to smoke a cigarette to look like Sandy from Grease.

In Venezuela, people are so obsessed with pageants that they send their daughters to "Miss Factories," to train them to win. At these factories, underage girls undergo plastic surgery and hormone therapy to delay puberty in attempts to grow taller. In addition, they often get mesh sewn onto their tongues so that they are physically incapable of eating solid food. This idea of taking horrific measures to look slimmer is not unique to Venezuela. A former Miss USA explained that she would "slather on hemorrhoid ointment, wrap herself up with Saran wrap, and run on a treadmill with an incline for 30 minutes to tighten her skin and waist up." Many countries, including France and Israel have banned child beauty pageants because it is "hypersexualizing." Why has the US yet to follow in their footsteps?

Additionally, the pageants strip their young contestants of a childhood by basically putting them through harsh child labor. Oftentimes, girls as young as 18 months old participate in pageants. There is no way that a girl under 2 years old has the capacity to decide for herself that she wants to participate in a beauty pageant. Not to mention, education often takes a backseat in pageant girls' lives as long practice sessions interfere with sleep and homework. This causes long-term distress for the contestants, including widespread unemployment for former pageant girls.

Moreover, these pageants tie self-worth and self-esteem to attractiveness. They teach girls that natural beauty and intelligence are not enough, when in actuality they should be doing the opposite. In fact, 72% of pageant girls hire coaches to train girls to be more "attractive."

Finally, these pageants pose potent health risks for the girls competing. Not only do intense rehearsals interfere with their sleep cycles, but they are also impacted by the harmful methods taken to keep them awake. One example is Honey Boo Boo's "go go juice" - AKA a mixture of Mountain Dew and Red Bull. She is known for drinking this continuously throughout pageant days to stay awake and energetic - but the health risks associated with the drinks, let alone for such a young girl, are completely ignored.

And, the future health problems associated with pageantry cannot be looked past. Participating in beauty pageants as kids leads to eating disorders, perfectionism, depression - in fact, at least 6% suffer from depression while competing. "The Princess Syndrome," as Psychology Today calls it relates to a small study published in 2005 that showed that former childhood beauty pageant contestants had higher rates of body dissatisfaction. This sense of dissatisfaction can so easily be translated to more severe mental and physical health issues, including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. The average BMI (Body Mass Index) of a Beauty Contestant in the US in 1930 was 20.8, which is universally in the middle of the "healthy" range. In 2010, it was 16.9, which is considered underweight for anyone.

So, despite the entertainment these shows and pageants provide, they should most definitely be stopped due to the immense amount of issues they cause for those involved and those who watch.

Although Honey Boo Boo is (sadly) considered one of America's sweethearts, her experience in pageantry has certainly not been a positive influence in her life nor in the lives of her fans - and this is the case for nearly all young pageant girls.

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