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One in four female college seniors experience a sexual assault

When parents send their kids off to college, they expect the college to assume responsibility for a safe campus. To that extent, the college becomes loco in parentis. A lot of colleges take that responsibility seriously. And a lot of them just take the parents’ check.
Last week the Association of American Universities released its survey of sexual violence on campus. This study—one of the largest ever undertaken— found that one in four female college seniors had experienced a sexual assault. Almost 75 percent of them did not report the assault for fear that they wouldn’t taken seriously by authorities, and they might even be blamed for their own victimization.
How did this state of affairs come about? Rape is not a minor crime like having your bicycle or your laptop stolen. Yet there are still plenty of colleges where a student accused of cheating is more likely to be expelled for bringing dishonor to a school than one accused of rape. When colleges fail to take strong action against rapists on campus, they ensure that more rapes will follow, since campus rapists almost invariably turn out to be serial rapists. In this regard, the college administrators are contributing to an unsafe environment.
Rape has far reaching implications for the victim. Her quality of life may change dramatically. She has been traumatized, so she may find it hard to leave her room. Maybe she has chronic insomnia. Maybe she starts drinking heavily or using drugs to blot out the flashbacks. Maybe her grades fall. Maybe she drops out of school. For a long time she may find it difficult to trust men.
Whatever changes she might undergo, one thing is certain: a rape victim never sees the world the same way again. Her life has been altered, not by her own agency but by the man or men who violated her. And when college administrators refuse to expel her rapist/s, they contribute another layer to this horrifyingly different experience of the world. As well as feeling unsafe, now the victim feels alone, betrayed by those she trusted to find justice for her. The perception she is living in a world where the innocent are punished, and the guilty walk free, may lead to despair, self-harm, and worse. This is a far cry from the education her parents had in mind for their daughter when they signed the first tuition check.
Rape is a hate crime, and it should be prosecuted as such by college administrations. Just as a lynching would not be tolerated, neither should a rape be shrugged off. Rape is not the product of sexual desire. Rape is the product of a sense of male entitlement and a lack of respect for women. Rape is brutal and since it is intended to cause suffering. As such, it is sadistic.
It is a grave error for college administrators to minimize rape as hi-jinks that got out of hand, or an alcohol fuelled misunderstanding where No was read as Yes. Rape is a serious crime, prohibited by law. It is not a minor crime like being caught with a small amount of marijuana in your possession, so why do some colleges persist in treating it as such?

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