Sexual assault and rape are most prominent on college campuses, and there is no denying it. On a national level, “one in every six women has been a victim of rape,” male college students are rape victims five times as often as non-student males and “one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while attending college.” It is vital for campus administrations to recognize that students at their institutions are at higher risks than Americans off campus in order to take measures to ensure the safety of their students. Sexual assault prevention should be the highest priority on every campus. College students pay tuition to pursue an education and a successful future, that these wounds may hinder, so it is important that universities protect their students from such violence.
Within the issue of sexual assault, there is the issue of under-reporting sexual assault. Only “12 percent of college student victims report the assault to law enforcement.” This commonly occurs because sexual assailants do not seem to be brought to any justice by the legal system. “Nationally, according to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), for every 1,000 rapes, 993 will go unpunished.” This send the message that rape and sexual assault is not punishable behavior. It fails to de-incentivize assailants, but strongly disincentives victims from reporting incidents. In the context of college students, it is the duty of the university administration to encourage reporting of and enforce consequences for sexual assaults, because that will de-incentivize attackers. In doing so, the university needs to show support of victims and provide them with legal, medical and psychological support in accordance with the victim’s needs.
College students’ experience with sexual assault, even from a bystander’s standpoint, can very powerfully convey the traumatic effects of these incidents. Stav Yativ, a junior at University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) attended Rolling Loud this past weekend, a music festival attended prominently by college students. When leaving the festival on Sunday night, she and her boyfriend saved a young girl from sexual assault by three men.
“She got ditched by her friends and was wearing see-through pants and a lingerie shirt and a group of guys had stopped and were her asking her questions and trying to touch her… (we) acted like we knew her and took her with us to BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) and got her a train ticket to get picked up by her mom. She was alone and had mascara all over her face. They were about to touch her right when we got there and they dipped. She was sober, just scared, alone and had no phone battery so we helped her buy a ticket.”
When asked what this incident made her feel Yativ responded, “I would have hated to see what could have happened if we didn’t step in; if you see something, say something. I was glad to be there at the right place and the right time. I hope that if she sees this happen to somebody else in the future, she will step in too.”
At the time of incidents, protecting oneself from sexual assault is an issue on individual scale, it is up to you or people that may be around you to avoid such situations, because the legal system and college administrations are not doing all that is in their power to protect you. Until the system changes and moves in the right direction, we need to be able to protect ourselves.
Yativ mentioned that “As a girl and student in college I know how stressful it may be walking alone.” All students, both male and female, must take individual measures to protect themselves from rape; such measures may be self-defense classes, always sticking to friends, drinking responsibly and other countless possible precautions.
Keren Blaunstein is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.