College Social Culture and Sexual Assault

Content Warning: sexual assault is discussed in this article.

As college students, we hear statistics constantly. Even the most sensitive issues are exposed in terms of percentages. An article ( published on EconoFact and authored by Jason Lindo, Peter Siminski and Isaac D. Swensen dives deeper into the statistics and their implications regarding sexual assault on American college campuses.

Five of these striking statistics are below:

  1. “Surveys show that around one-in-five college women were sexually assaulted during their time as undergraduates.”
  2. “more than half of incapacitated rapes reported by college women occur at parties…”
  3. “…nearly three-quarters of student rape victims are intoxicated at the time of the incident.”
  4. “Football games increase reports of rape for women between the ages of 17 and 24 years by an average of 28 percent.”
  5. Furthermore, “home games increase reported rapes 41 percent while away games increase reports by 15 percent.”

So, what does this mean? What are the implications, and what can universities do to combat what appears to truly be an epidemic? The EconoFact article seeks to uncover the answers to these questions.

Drinking and partying, football games and tailgates: in these, we see college traditions at play. However, worry lies in the hidden traditions within these events. Recently, many colleges across the country have established sexual assault prevention task forces to combat instances of sexual assault. These administrations should be praised, but to what extent? It is difficult to establish how effective new policies are in actually combatting sexual assault and accepting the word of self-reporting victims. The EconoFact article details how “[i]t will be critical for future research to determine whether these programs can reduce the incidence of rape on campus and, if so, which types of programs are most successful.”

Recent publicity has not brought much hope to sexual assault victims and allies across the country. In fact, the current Trump Administration has put measures in place to shrink campuses’ liability for incidents of sexual assault, once again muting victims’ voices.

This brings up even more questions, and frankly, even fewer answers. How can we help intensify the conversations that take place nationwide, both on and off college campuses? How can we defy government policy to take action and stand in solidarity with victims? In today’s world, it is difficult to stand by and watch values as they are undermined and mocked by national leaders. However, as college students, we have the power to shape our own generation. Stand up to sexual assault by breaking down the norms of social culture on your own campus. Together, we can change these statistics to reflect our care for those around us.