Defining Rape Culture on modern college campuses

By Sonia Aquije

The problematic fact of dealing with rape cases at universities is that most colleges aren’t prepared to handle them. The concept of accepting rape as a byproduct of alcohol and drugs is terrifying. Accepting rape culture normalizes male sexual violence and blames the victim. Sexual violence at universities is becoming increasingly familiar. From Colombia University, The University of Virginia and most recently two New Jersey colleges; William Patterson and Ramapo College with gang rape cases.

As a young woman and college student, I believe it’s of vital importance for sexual assault at universities to be prosecuted fairly. I know there’s a school disciplinary panel before the case is examined by the criminal justice system, but most universities are not prepared for those cases.

The alleged gang rape of a young woman known as Jackie back in 2012, by fraternity members at the University of Virginia has catapulted the seriousness of sexual assault on campus to the limelight. Rape on campus universities is often underreported. For the most part, women who report rape aren’t protected or helped enough when consulting their campus officials, and this scares me. Universities should do as much as they can for women who come forward with rape allegations. It’s unfair to the victim to deal with inadequate university assistance. It’s difficult for victims to let someone know of their ordeal. So when universities persuade them not to speak out or don’t work enough to solve the issue it’s insulting.

I’m not sure how sexual violence can be stopped but universities need to be prepared to evaluate allegations and provide support. The ‘It’s on Us’ campaign, launched by President Obama this past fall is a great start. This campaign helps combat sexual assault on campus by providing universities with guidelines and reviewing existing laws to protect victims. The campaign urges both men and women to speak out against sexual violence and not be bystanders. As a Kean student I’m proud this university is taking part in this initiative to stop sexual violence on campus.

However, there are still students like Colombia University’s Emma Sulkowicz, who informed campus officials back in April 2013 about her rape, but was met by inaction, even though there were two other women that came forward with allegations against the same man. The university ultimately failed them in handling their cases, and found the alleged attacker, Jean-Paul Nungesser as “not responsible”. According to an article by the New York Times, “Fight against Sexual Assault holds colleges to account,” Obama’s administration told universities they must use “preponderance of the evidence” not the “clear and convincing” rule many used. This is a guideline for universities dealing with sexual assault cases. Which is helpful and a stepping stone to a more efficient way of dealing with these cases.

Sulkowicz had to fear for her safety on campus because of the inaction. I would be terrified if I was put in that position. If he wasn’t apprehended after notifying campus officials, how is it possible to go about your daily life when the attacker is free roaming on campus? Its ridiculous that a university can let alleged rapists free.

I know women will be blamed for being raped but its complete B.S. If a woman is dressed provocatively, she’s not asking for it, if they’re walking home or to their car in the dark she’s not asking for it, if she’s drunk she’s still not asking for it. No means no.

I hate that women are objectified in society and that’s because of the media mostly. Instead of showcasing woman as an empowering individual, lately they are being shown as easy targets for assault and that’s not okay. If sexual assault is to be stopped, it needs to start at a much larger scale not just campuses. Therefore, it’s up to all of us to combat sexual assault and not make it a normal thing that happens in our society; people should be held accountable for their criminal actions. Remember sexual assault has no gender bias; anyone can become a victim.


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