Rape Culture and It's Dominance On College Campuses

Sexual violence on college campuses is often notoriously mishandled and/or swept under the rug. The gross mistreatment of sexual assault victims is a direct result of societal, problematic attitudes towards sexual assault. Recurrently, victims are not only victims of the sexual abuse with which they came forward, but victims of scrutiny and lack of compassion or action in their defense.

Rape culture is a violent, cruel reality that sensationalizes victim-blaming and the justification of rapists and sexual predators. Colleges and universities, collectively, are seemingly some of the worst offenders. Cases involving victims such as Landen Gambill remind us of the lack of protection many colleges provide for victims of sexual assault should it take place on campus. Why do we, as a society, seem to go out of our way to either prove the innocence of sexual predators or develop “rational” reasoning as to why rape might have occurred? Why is it so far-fetched for sexual assault allegations to be taken seriously and in a manner that does not shame or demean the victim?

In August, our own Hampton University was placed under federal investigation by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. The investigation is on the basis of possible Title IX violations which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex at a college or university. This includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape. With that being said, there is no evidence of supporting or refuting any sexual violence allegedly taking place on campus.

 

Cases like that of Landen Gambill, in which the victim is publically ridiculed for speaking out against an administration that took little to no action against her attacker, happen every day. It is unfortunate to say the least that we cannot rely on the very institutions that one would hope would have our best interests at heart. Recently, a group students at Spelman and Morehouse College started the hashtag “#WeKnowWhatYouDid” in response to the overlooked allegations of sexual assault on campus. The hashtag has been predominantly used to “call out” alleged sexual predators on college campuses and provide a platform for victims of sexual violence to speak out against their attackers.

We need to protect sexual assault survivors and end a culture that prioritizes the protection of outed sexual predators. Schools have become reliant on knee-jerk reactions to being publicly scrutinized for the mishandling of sexual assault or, if it comes down to it, the undergoing of Title IX investigations. If our schools care about their student’s wellbeing and safety, they will work to detach themselves from the toxicity of rape culture and set an example of protecting both men and women from sexual violence.