Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Title IX

As we finish our senior year and approach our first year of college, learning about sexual assault on college campuses is a little bit scary. I have known for a while that it is a very large issue, but after watching a clip from The Hunting Ground during Ms. Kobus’s presentation and hearing all of the statistics, it became much more of a reality of how real of a problem it actually is, and how much under-reporting of sexual assaults actually occurs. An absurd number of elite universities were listed, many of which are colleges that our peers will be attending or are considering attending next year, had upward of 200 reported cases of sexual assault, with at most only three expulsions. At one of the schools, there were zero expulsions for sexual assault, and almost 200 expulsions for reasons related to academic dishonesty. It makes it much more understandable why so many young women do not report if they have been sexually assaulted, because past statistics have proven time and time again that colleges tend to suppress this information because, as the documentary stated, they do not want to become known as the “rape-campus,” even though sexual assault is a problem to happens at every college.

I learned about Title IX briefly last year in U.S. history, but it was very interesting to see the connection it has to sexual assault. Title IX states that "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." I knew that Title IX originally provided equality in terms of sports and general access to education at colleges, but in the ACLU article we read about Title IX, we learned that sexual harassment can be considered discrimination if it affects the victim’s educational experience and opportunity. If a victim of sexual assault experiences any sort of anxiety or feels unsafe as a result and the college does not do anything to solve the problem, this can impact the victim’s educational experience, which is why it falls under the issues dealt with under Title IX. This is an important connection that I had never really thought about before. An adult that I know recently told a story about how when she was in college, she was on a run one night and a man attacked her and tried to assault her. She ended up getting away, and went to report what had happened to the school’s security. She said that the first thing the campus officer asked her was, “Well, were you wearing that halter top while you were running?” This happened about 30 years ago, but it is still relevant to sexual assault today. Often times, the blame is put on the victim because of how they were dressed or the way they were acting, which is part of the reason why so many women choose not to come forward about their assaults, because often times nothing is done to help them or to punish the assailant.

I think that the article on overcorrection provided a nice contrast to the other articles and to the documentary. It talked about how at private universities, those who are accused may be denied their right to due process, and how colleges are very concerned with the issue of false reporting. While false reporting is a very real issue, such as what happened with the Duke men’s lacrosse team, it occurs a very small percentage of the time. However, because there have been instances of false reporting, I think that it is still important to provide the right to due process for anyone who is accused. Another statistic that we learned from the documentary is that less than 8% of men on college campus commit over 90% of sexual assaults. This is important to note because men in general tend to be demonized while discussing sexual assault, when in reality it is a small minority who are actually guilty of these crimes. It was helpful to get two different perspectives on this issue.

Although it is scary to learn about these issues before heading off to college, it is also helpful information to have because it will help us be more prepared to avoid finding ourselves in these situations. While it is unfortunate that this is still a problem we have to deal with today, it is important to recognize that it is not a problem that will go away overnight, but hopefully with more awareness and information becoming available, it will become less prevalent with the years to come.

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