Universities and Colleges around the country are feeling pressure to resolve the problem of sexual assaults on campus. They are getting a new focus and a new look at the problem because of some pressure from President Obama and the new task force he started a month ago to look into the causes of and how sexual assaults on campus are handled.
It is hard to say exactly why the White House is involved in campus sexual assaults other than the fact that University and College officials nationwide seem inept at handling the problem.
The facts are:
1. That 25 to 30% of all women on a university campus will be sexually assaulted in her four years at the institution.
2. The assailant is known to the victim in close to 90% of the cases.
3. Fewer than 5% of the assailants ever get punished.
4.Universities encourage victims to stay "within the system" and not report the incident to local law enforcement.
5. In 70% of the cases, alcohol or drugs are involved.
These facts combine for a frustrating situation for female victims. They are pressured from their peers to not report the incident in most of the cases-close to 90% -because the assailants are their classmates. A felony sexual assault on anyone's record is a major impediment to career enhancement.
University officials encourage students to keep the crime within the University system, where a felony assault is treated as a violation of the student handbook and not subject to reporting as required by federal law. This helps keep the reputation of the university intact and maintains the image they wish to represent of the campus as a safe and serene place, especially for women.
The normal impression of sexual assaults on a college campus is that they are done by off-campus perpetrators. We are not sure where that came from but it is completely wrong. Nearly 98% of all sexual assaults on a college campus are done by students.
Universities do their best to keep the campuses safe with security patrols, emergency call boxes, text messaging of assaults and a variety of other means. The fact of the matter is that a preponderance of these assaults occur at private or semi-private parties where alcohol and drugs are plentiful. Female victims are often so drunk they don't even remember what happened.
Our advice to female students for their own personal safety is that they should learn some self-defense techniques and arm themselves with a self-defense product such as a pepper spray.