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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I'm The Girl Who'd Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

You raise your protest picket signs and I’ll raise my white picket fence.
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Social Media feeds are constantly filled with quotes on women's rights, protests with mobs of women, and an array of cleverly worded picket signs.

Good for them, standing up for their beliefs and opinions. Will I be joining my tight-knit family of the same gender?

Nope, no thank you.

Don't get me wrong, I am not going to be oblivious to my history and the advancements that women have fought to achieve. I am aware that the strides made by many women before me have provided us with voting rights, a voice, equality, and equal pay in the workforce.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Who Would Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

For that, I am deeply thankful. But at this day in age, I know more female managers in the workforce than male. I know more women in business than men. I know more female students in STEM programs than male students. So what’s with all the hype? We are girl bosses, we can run the world, we don’t need to fight the system anymore.

Please stop.

Because it is insulting to the rest of us girls who are okay with being homemakers, wives, or stay-at-home moms. It's dividing our sisterhood, and it needs to stop.

All these protests and strong statements make us feel like now we HAVE to obtain a power position in our career. It's our rightful duty to our sisters. And if we do not, we are a disappointment to the gender and it makes us look weak.

Weak to the point where I feel ashamed to say to a friend “I want to be a stay at home mom someday.” Then have them look at me like I must have been brain-washed by a man because that can be the only explanation. I'm tired of feeling belittled for being a traditionalist.

Why?

Because why should I feel bad for wanting to create a comfortable home for my future family, cooking for my husband, being a soccer mom, keeping my house tidy? Because honestly, I cannot wait.

I will have no problem taking my future husband’s last name, and following his lead.

The Bible appoints men to be the head of a family, and for wives to submit to their husbands. (This can be interpreted in so many ways, so don't get your panties in a bunch at the word “submit”). God specifically made women to be gentle and caring, and we should not be afraid to embrace that. God created men to be leaders with the strength to carry the weight of a family.

However, in no way does this mean that the roles cannot be flipped. If you want to take on the responsibility, by all means, you go girl. But for me personally? I'm sensitive, I cry during horror movies, I'm afraid of basements and dark rooms. I, in no way, am strong enough to take on the tasks that men have been appointed to. And I'm okay with that.

So please, let me look forward to baking cookies for bake sales and driving a mom car.

And I'll support you in your endeavors and climb to the top of the corporate ladder. It doesn't matter what side you are on as long as we support each other, because we all need some girl power.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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Arizona Is Known For Its Women Leaders

Twenty years after Arizona elected the "Fab Five," the first women Senators from Arizona were sent to Washington.

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The year is 1998, 4 years after the "Year of the Woman." Arizona elects five women to its top statewide offices. Four Republicans, and one Democrat. Governor Jane Dee Hull, Secretary of State Betsey Bayless, Attorney General Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Public Instruction Lisa Graham Keegan, and State Treasurer Carol Springer. The first state in the country to pull it off. Arizona has had a long history of electing women to statewide offices. Arizona elected five women to statewide offices as well as its first female Senator. This isn't new for Arizonans, they elected women into statewide office just in 2014, with Michele Reagan as Secretary of State and Diane Douglas as Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Arizonans are very civically independent people, they take their right to vote extremely serious. They do their homework on candidates, and even though Republican usually dominate here, they still choose the best candidate they see fit, whether they be male or female. Arizona now has two female Senators, Kyrsten Sinema, and Martha McSally, who was appointed back in December. Not only are we represented federally by women, but we are also represented by three women at the state capitol. Kimberly Yee, State Treasurer, Kathy Hoffman Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Katie Hobbs Secretary of State. Not only are they women, but two of them are Democrats. Back in 1998, four were Republicans and just one was a Democrat.

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