Intro to Sociology
20 November 2017
Sexual Assault on College Campuses
With Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s decision to rescind the Obama era’s guidelines on how to deal with sexual assault on college campuses, it is a popular topic across the nation right now. Sexual assault is a broad term that can be defined as forcing someone to enact sexually against their will by means of physical force or manipulation. It includes, but is not limited to, rape, attempted rape, and sexual fondling of any type. According to the RAINN (the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) someone in the United States is being sexually assaulted every two minutes with nearly 70 percent of cases not being reported. Not only are students being assaulted, some are being falsely accused. Based on DeVos’s speech, it seems as though what she is trying implement is a policy in which schools will be fair to both parties, the accused and the accuser (Gersen, 2017).
Sexual assault in college can be defined as a problem in many ways. Not only can it be a conflict of fairness but it can also be political. It can be an issue of fairness because many students who are unfortunate victims of sexual assault are often blamed. Questions like, “What were you wearing?”, “Why were you alone?”, and “How much did you have to drink that night?” are all examples of victim blaming and can greatly affect survivors psychologically. Because of this, many sexual assault victims do not report their case for fear of being blamed. It also can be unfair to a student being accused of sexual assault. Many schools’ Title IX policies result in some students losing their right to due process. Due process is a constitutional right that colleges and universities should enforce during any sexual assault accusation because a wrong accusation can leave a negative mark on a student’s life forever. Nearly 74 percent of schools automatically assume the accused student guilty without even holding a hearing (FIRE, 2017).
Politically, sexual assault in college is a big problem. The case of People v. Turner is a great example of this. Brock Turner, a former Stanford student and swimmer, was convicted of three counts of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person, and penetration of an unconscious person. His sentence was reduced to only three months in jail despite the original six month sentence because of his lack of criminal history, good behavior during trial, and what many believe, because of his race. Fear of ruining his future was also considered. In 2015, just one year before Turner’s case, Cory Batey, a black college freshman at Vanderbilt, was convicted of three counts of sexual assault and received a minimum of 15 years in prison (Barchenger, 2016). This is only one example of how sexual assault in college can be very political.
According to the University of Michigan, 11.2% of college students were...