Sexual Violence on College Campuses

Freedom from sexual assault is a basic human right
a nation’s decency is in
large part measured by how it responds to violence
against women…our
daughters, our sisters, our wives, our mothers,
our grandmothers have every
single right to expect to be
free from violence and sexual abuse.   


Vice President Joe Biden, January 22, 2014 
(Not Alone, The First Report of the White House
Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault)  


  • Sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking are serious problems on college and university campuses in the U.S. and across the world.

    A highly significant fact to remember, is that most incidents of rape involved the consumption of alcohol or drugs, and were less likely to be reported to campus officials.  Drugs and alcohol impede judgment and the ability to react and think clearly.  In addition, date rape drugs are dropped into alcohol. 
In all 50 states, the law says that if you are forced into sex by anyone (boyfriend, husband, intimate partner, teacher, or anyone else)—that is called rape. You have a right to say “No!”

In a 2016 study released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), an average of approximately 21% of undergraduate women across the nine schools participating in the study reported experiencing sexual assault since entering college.

The majority of rape and sexual assault victims reported being victimized by someone they knew.  Non-heterosexual college females reported significantly higher rates than their heterosexual female peers.

Nearly 50% of women report experiencing their first incident of intimate partner violence between 18 and 24 years of age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Being a victim of sexual assault, especially rape, can negatively impact a student’s mental and physical health and academic outcomes.   Being a victim of dating violence and intimate partner violence is related to a host of detrimental health and social functioning outcomes, such as academic failure, depression or anxiety, and alcohol and drug abuse. 

In a campus environment, students who are victimized by other students face unique challenges, such as close proximity to perpetrators and difficulty maintaining anonymity. The majority of rape incidents of college students are unreported by victims – in the 2016 BJS study, only 7% reported the incident to a school official. Furthermore, most incidents of rape involve the consumption of alcohol or drugs and are less likely to be reported to campus officials.

(Source:  Protecting Students from Sexual Assault, U.S. Department of Justice, “Not Alone, Together Against Sexual Assault,” http://changingourcampus.org/, an online resource center supported by the Office on Violence Against Women.   https://www.justice.gov/ovw/protecting-students-sexual-assault; and Krebs, C. P., Lindquist, C. H., Berzofsky, M., Shook-SA,B., Peterson, K., Planty, M., Langon, L., and Stroop, J. (2016). Campus climate survey validation study: Final technical report. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics; and Zinzow, et al. (2011), Krebs, et al. (2016), and Fisher, B. S., Daigle, L. E., Cullen, F. T., & Turner, M. G. (2003). “Reporting sexual victimization to the police and others: Results from a national-level study of college women [external link].” Criminal Justice and Behavior, 30(1), 6-38) 
  • Sexual violence prevention training is required by the NCAA for college athletes, as of August 2017. 

    "It's about doing the right thing, changing culture, changing how men need to conduct themselves," he said. "I think sexual assault and those type of issues, those are much more male problems than female problems. The males are the ones that can solve this.”  (Coach Chris Peterson, UW Husky football coach, known for caring equally about the person as much as the player)  

    "Life is about finding passion about what you do, and we're passionate about football," Petersen said. "But that's only half of what we're passionate about. We're passionate about raising good people.” He makes teaching respect a priority, and says, “We're going back to basics."  The basics include giving them lectures throughout the year.  Petersen has even put together a power point demonstration.  "I always tell these guys the rules are very much different for you in this room, than they are your normal college kid on campus."  Petersen believes the microscope athletes live under is justified. So, to help them succeed, he makes teaching respect a priority.

    He's also brought in rape survivors, like activist Brenda Tracy, to share their stories with the team. "We've had people come in here that have said every word in the book telling their story," Petersen said. "Those are the good speakers. Those are the ones, that's real life. That's the ones where our guys are locked in and they're learning.”

    "So many of these players got the message when they were growing up, that they shouldn't drink and drive," said David Martin, a King County senior deputy prosecutor who oversees  domestic violence and sexual assault cases, who speaks to college athletes. "Those messages haven't been as consistent in sexual assault and domestic violence."

    "We call it 'Built for Life,'" said Petersen. "These are life topics. These are life skills. You know, specifically, when we go into the area of women, we talk about our 'real man' program. What a real man looks like, how a real man conducts himself."

    Peterson says the training is part of the program just like memorizing plays, or strength and conditioning.  He tells his players to set an example. Be part of the solution.

    The NCAA policy mandating sexual violence training for coaches and athletes is a good step forward, says Coach Peterson. But he feels strongly that doing it once a year to check a box and satisfy a requirement isn’t enough.

    For more information on prevention methods to engage kids, parents and coaches, prosecutors recommend ThatsNotCool.com and another program called Coaching Boys into Men, by FUTURES.

    "If we're only teaching them how to play the sport, then we're failing them big-time," said Mike Berg, former High School Football Coach.  (Source:  Coach Petersen makes sexual assault prevention a priority, King5 TV, August 23, 2017)

    QUESTION:  Why are high school coaches not teaching sexual violence prevention to their athletes?  The colleges draw their new athletes from the high schools.   

Statistics
  • Drinking among college and high school students is at epidemic levels.  The National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Task Force on College Drinking reported the following 2009 statistics:
    • 97,000 students were victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
    • 3,360,000 students drove under the influence of alcohol.
    • 1,825 college students between 18 and 24 years old died from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes.

    • 599,000 students were unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol.
    • 696,000 students were assaulted by another student who was drinking.

    • 25% of students admitted to missing class and getting bad grades because of their drinking habits.   (Source: 2009, http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/)   


  • Fraternities and Sororities.  Greek life community members at Penn State University are "four times more likely to be heavy drinkers" and sorority women are "50% more likely" to be "sexually assaulted."  (Penn State president issues threat to fraternities, sororities," CBS News, April 13, 2017) 

  • One in every 5 women in college is a victim of a sexual assault; but only 11-20% report the crime to authorities.  (President Barack Obama’s Administration, CBS This Morning, January 2015; and "Girls and Sex," Peggy Orenstein, CBS This Morning, March 29, 2016)
    


  • One in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. This occurs on small, large and prestigious colleges.  (CBS News, May 2, 2014)

  • The White House task force has announced a plan urging colleges and universities to combat sexual assault on campuses.  1 in 5 female students are victims.  The task force calls for:  Better training for victims’ advocates; Making reports more confidential; and Conducting better investigations.  The task force has launched http://www.NotAlone.gov which allows victims to file a federal complaint. 
    (The First Report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault, April 2014)
What You Can Do

If you are a victim of rape,
  • Immediately after a rape, tell someone where you are going, and go to a safe place.

  • Call or text 9-1-1 if this is an Emergency.

  • Call Spokane’s Crime Check at (509) 456-2233, or find one person you trust, and tell them.

  • Go to the Emergency Room of any hospital as soon as possible, within 48 hours, and request a rape exam.  A specially trained nurse will use a Jane Doe Rape Kit to gather physical evidence of the assault (storing needed samples of hair, body fluids, etc.), as well as photographs.  A number will be placed on the envelope holding the evidence.  Police will not open the envelope unless the victim decides to press charges.  (Federal Violence Against Women Act)

  • File a police report, even if you are not ready to file charges.

  • Call Spokane's Lutheran Social Services Sexual Assault Center 
    24-hour Sexual Assault Crisis Line:  (509) 624-7273  
       
  • Invite police officers to teach self-defense classes for graduating high school seniors, before going to college.



  • Students at universities who have been sexually assaulted should contact both the police and the Title 1X Coordinator on campus.  (Baylor University, Baylor Sex Assault Scandal, Title lX Coordinator (Patty Crawford) Resigns in Dispute Over Role, CBS News, October 5, 2016)

   

Local Organizations
Additional Resources
  • The Center for Changing Our Campus Culture: An Online Resource to Address Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking.  (The Center) is supported by the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women in collaboration with its designated Campus Program Technical Assistance Provider Team. The Center has worked collaboratively and sought guidance from experts to provide important resources for colleges and universities on sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. http://changingourcampus.org/

  •  The National Domestic Violence Hotline    1-800-799-7233