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Jan 30 2018
by Zehra Naqvi

#TIMESUP College Edition: Sexual Assault on College Campuses

By Zehra Naqvi - Jan 30 2018
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From media mogul Harvey Weinstein to NBC's Matt Lauer, these past few months have seen powerful figures in the entertainment industry being exposed for sexual harassment that was previously swept under the rug. This has resulted in both the #MeToo and Time's Up movements which are being pushed by women in the industry, as well as ordinary people across the country. Time's Up is a campaign aiming to shine light on women from all backgrounds and circumstances who endure systemic inequality and injustice in their workplace, from sexual harassment to unequal pay. This is especially important for female college students, who will be the first generation entering the workforce in this new shifting environment. However, this is not something new for college students, as this culture of inequality and mistreatment is even found in the academic environment.

1/5 Women are Sexually Assaulted on College Campuses

According to the Utah Law Review, many universities create a system that does not properly inform college students about their rights in the aftermath of sexual assault or harassment. This research also claims that female victims feel more uncomfortable to vocalize their abuse as these advances occur commonly in classrooms. In fact, serial sexual harassment on campuses is usually done by the same faculty member.

In addition to potential harassment by faculty members, college students are also highly at risk for harassment or assault by their peers, especially in party environments. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, female college-aged students (18-24) are 20% less likely than non-students of the same age to be a victim of rape or sexual assault. The same research also claims that 23.1% of undergrad females experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation. In addition, female graduate and professional students experience the same circumstances at 8.8%. This is obviously a huge issue, and is due largely to the culture that has been created on college campuses and in the United States as a whole. With the advent of movements like #MeToo and Time's Up, there is hopefully change coming for college students. 

50% of Sexual Assaults on Campus Happen from the Start of Fall Semester to  Thanksgiving Break 

This time period, from the start of the fall semester to the Thanksgiving break, is sometimes referred to as the "Red Zone," and is rarely addressed. This is a time of increased vulnerability, especially for freshman who are beginning their college experience, yet there are few warnings to exercise even more caution during this time. NPR even claims that very few of these sexual assault cases are actually prosecuted, allowing reoccurrences with no real consequences.

The Current Department of Education Disregards Sexual Assault

Candice Jackson, current Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Department of Education, discussed her office's viewpoints on sexual assault. In a statement, she claimed that "the accusations — 90 percent of them — fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right.’" Her remarks as a public official dealing with this issue are alarming for the regulations of protecting sexual assault victims in universities countrywide.

Sadly, more than 100 universities were recently under investigations by the Department of Education for discrimination against gender in sexual assault cases. A women choosing to further her education or provide for her family should not be subjected to this inequality. Time is up, not just in the entertainment industry, but on college campuses as well. 

If you or anyone you know has experienced sexual assault, don't hesitate to call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE. Also, college health service centers, rape crisis centers and local sexual assault awareness providers have lots of helpful services for victims. Additionally, if you'd like to support the TIME'S UP movement, you can donate to their legal defense fund.

Lead Image Credit: Pexels

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Zehra Naqvi - University of California, Berkeley

UC Berkeley Student | Staff Writer

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