The lack of understanding university officials demonstrate about the real problem of college campus rape is deeply disturbing. Why are college campuses not doing more to keep their students safe?
Just over an hour’s drive from me is the town of Lawrence, the home of the University of Kansas. Unfortunately, KU joins other American universities in a disturbing trend that needs to stop, as it was recently revealed that a rape that occurred last year was horribly mismanaged.
In October 2013, a KU freshman was so intoxicated at the end of a party that she needed help getting back to her dorm. A male acquaintance who lived in the same dorm escorted her home, and they wound up having sex in his dorm room. However, what may have started out as consensual sex turned decidedly non-consensual, as she later reported that despite her pleas for him to stop, he continued having sex with her.
So, it’s rape, right? Especially since the rapist agreed that this is what had taken place. Read that again — he didn’t attempt to defend himself or deny her allegations.
Not so fast. When she reported what seemed to be a cut-and-dried sexual assault case, the local police declined to press charges against the male student. And the university sentenced him to probation and counseling, he was banned from university housing, and he was ordered to write a four-page personal reflection paper.
A similar case was recently reported at Columbia University, where a woman was sexually assaulted and despite reporting the rape, her attacker was never punished. She will be incorporating a message of injustice into her visual arts thesis — she will carry a dorm mattress wherever she goes, and will continue to do so until her rapist no longer attends the same school.
Like the KU student, police treated her without respect and dismissed her valid concerns. But her performance piece makes you wonder, what if men had to carry the weight that women do after a sexual assault has taken place? Not only are women often blamed unfairly for the criminal actions of another, they then have to live with the emotional pain for years — often a lifetime.
Why aren’t universities doing more to take sexual assault more seriously, and why aren’t they attempting to punish those who commit this crime?
When the KU student complained that the male student’s punishment was too light, she was given a chance to air her grievances with the university. The male student was also invited to provide a statement, which came from his attorney. It may be no surprise that the blame for the rape was placed on the woman. It was also determined by the university that adding community service would simply be punitive… you know, like the sort of thing that should happen if a crime was committed.
The KU student told Huffington Post that if she had known what would happen and the stress it caused, she might not have reported it in the first place. This continues the cycle of sexual assault — men thinking they can get away with it, universities who don’t punish the criminals and victims who are too afraid to report it when it does take place. KU and other universities need to change the rape culture they are helping brew in the young adults of America.