CU and Sexual Assault: Know the Facts

TRIGGER WARNING: This article contains sensitive information.

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On March 18th of this year, 2019, women gathered near the University Memorial Center in protest against sexual assault handlings on the campus. The protest was brought on after CU student Zachary Orion Roper was accused of sexual assault. Flyers and a call to arms were posted all throughout the campus to advocate for his guilt and attempt to get attention to the issue. Roper was accused of raping a fellow student and was “charged with sexual assault on a helpless victim, a Class 3 felony, and sexual assault on a victim incapable of appraising conduct, a Class 4 felony.” Further investigation led to the discovery that Roper has a history of sexual misconduct, in which he sexually assaulted a family friend, locking her in a hotel room in an attempt to rape her before they were interrupted.

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CU Boulder has had a long history of sexual assault cases and misconduct on the claimed “Party Campus.” A CU Sexual Misconduct Survey conducted in the Fall of 2015 revealed that 28% of women and 6% of men have experienced sexual assault, 6% of women and 3% of men experienced sexual exploitation, 28% of women and 9% of men experienced sexual harassment, and 10% of women and 3% of men experienced some form of stalking. This is said to be higher than the commonly known statistic that one in four women will experience sexual assault while attending a university.

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A more recent student survey, reported on in 2019 said that the numbers found in the Fall of 2015 still stand in regard to female sexual assault cases, adding that people within the LGBTQ+ community have also experienced sexual assault at a rate of 21%, saying that they, “face increased levels of harassment compared to non-LGBTQ members.” The statistics also now pose that 1 in 18 males, roughly 6% of the student population, also experience some form of sexual misconduct as undergraduates.

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However, during a study conducted by CU during the 2017-2017 academic school year, numbers showed that less than 1% of the CU student body reported a sexual assault case. This number placed next to a total of 28% of students who experienced sexual assault shows that there seems to be a huge reporting issue on campus. The proposed solution is for campuses to begin thinking in a “survivor first manner.

A “Survivor-first manner” of thinking may be what the students need, but due to a 2018 rewrite of sexual misconduct handlings done by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, the opposite is actually the expectations for universities to uphold. This has been done out of consideration of falsely accused rape and sexual assault cases in an attempt to make sure that false allegations do not upturn and ruin the falsely accused lives. And while this is important, the entire rewrite of dealing with sexual assault cases on college campuses actually counteracts intuition. According to CU, false reports make up as little as 2 to 8% of all cases, meaning that there is a 92-98% chance that every survivor is telling the truth.

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DeVos’s action, while perhaps conducted with good intentions, are actually posing a threat to the already problematic dealings of sexual misconduct on college campuses. In CU alone, we know that over one-fourth of the female student population, over one-fifth of the LGBTQ+ student population, and one-eighteenth of the male student population has dealt with some form of sexual violation. Compare this with the 1% of the student population who reported their assault, and it becomes apparent that there is a huge issue with sexual assault and the access to justice for these crimes on this campus.

Campus and Nation-Wide Resources (as found on CU Boulder's website):