Who Put You in Charge?

With all the discussion happening regarding Universities and Colleges [mis]handlings of on-campus rape cases, many people have never stopped to consider an important question.

Why is that their responsibility?  Why isn’t it taken to the police?

It’s a fair concern.  After all, rape and sexual assault are serious charges.  This article by Politico details not only why, but how it came to be that campus assaults became handled this way.  It’s an incredibly informative piece.

Read All About it!

by Randy Glasbergen

by Randy Glasbergen

I’ve talked about this a lot.  Now, we have a professional article from a legitimate source talking about the handling of sexual assault and rape in universities and colleges.  Honestly it just needs to be talked about in general.  This is serious, this is way more common than it should be, and it’s not slowing down.  Educate yourself, and force the schools to as well.

From the Mouths of Babes

referenced from campustours.tamu.edu

referenced from campustours.tamu.edu

Okay, so maybe college students aren’t exactly babies anymore.  Some of them do have legitimate political opinions, formulated through personal research and attention to current events.  But, as I’m about to display, many of them have little to no idea what’s happening in the real world.  I took a poll of students at Texas A&M University, via several large (widely used) groups online.  Each of these groups requires a Texas A&M certified email to be a member, so it ensured that I would be polling only students.  Texas A&M is considered to be a relatively conservative university, with its agriculture roots and heavy military presence attracting many students from small-town Texas.  Naturally, I thought producing a survey regarding opinions and education surrounding same-sex marriage based here would produce some interesting results.  There were lots of conflicting responses.  The first question was “The Supreme Court recently turned down petitions halting same-sex marriage. This means that (at least temporarily), same-sex marriage is legal in at least five more states, paving the way for countless others to legalize same-sex marriage. What are your feelings about this?”  Out of exactly 100 responses, 61% reported favorable responses such as “It’s about time!”  There were 26% who reported negative feelings such as shock, feeling offended, and being unhappy to hear the report.  The other 13% said they had been keeping up with the news and already knew about the development.

The next question was “Do you think that the Supreme Court is indirectly supporting same-sex marriage through this decision?”  Students reported 65% belief that SCOTUS was supporting same-sex marriage, 22% belief this didn’t show support, and 13% confusion/no opinion about the topic.

The next question got a wide range of responses, as it was open ended.  I asked “Do you know how many states currently allow same-sex marriage?” with simply a blank below the question for them to fill in.  I arranged their answers in groupings of ten for ease of reporting.  49% of those surveyed said they didn’t know or didn’t care to guess.  There were 21% of guesses between one and ten states, with the most common guess being five states.  Frankly, I found this to be a bit shocking.  I know that this is a commonly changing number, especially right now, but by 2010 the number was far greater than 10.  There were 11 guesses between 11-20, and 17 guesses between 21 and 30.  All things considered, I wouldn’t say this is very far off of what I expected.

The next two questions had remarkably similar results, though I don’t consider them to be overly related.  The fourth question was “Do you think that the Supreme Court will eventually have to step in for same-sex marriage to be allowed in all 50 states?”  This is something I myself have spent quite a bit of time pondering, so it formed the basis for an interesting set of statistics.  The overwhelming answer was “yes,” with 71% of the vote.  There was a 24% vote for no, and a 5% vote for “I don’t know,” which I suppose is essentially a lack of vote.  The final question, which I wanted as a base to compare to the rest of the questions, was simply “Do you personally believe that same-sex marriage should be legalized?”  I say it’s simple, but for a lot of people I suppose it isn’t.  It got 68% of votes for “yes,” 16% of the votes for “no,” and 16% for “I don’t know.”

Now, why is this information at all significant.  It’s a sample of a sample.  My opinion is that these statistics are a representation of what’s happening next.  Texas A&M is full of college students, learning and creating their own identities that they will still have when they vote in the future.  Texas A&M is also full of people with religious and conservative backgrounds, in an incredibly conservative state.  If even a majority of the students here believe that same-sex marriage is on its way to be legalized (and agree that it should be), that’s worth noticing.

Blink-Timing

Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, and view one of the most beautiful/horrible examples of on-campus sexual assault awareness.  I’ve said time and time again that universities and colleges need to do more to prevent and respond to sexual assault within their community of students.  This school NAILED IT.  By nailed it, I mean they did one of those things where the point of the nail goes in and then you hammer it sideways accidentally and it bends and you can’t fix it so you just pound it in so far that you can’t see it anymore.

Don’t Carry it Alone

I’m sure a lot of you heard about Emma Sulkowicz and her project “Carry that Weight,” in response to her school (Columbia University) refusing to expel her rapist.  She vowed to carry her dorm mattress around until he was removed from the University.  The project gained a significant amount of support, with other students assisting her and waiting outside of her classes to help carry the mattress.  The project has now taken even more exciting turns, gaining notoriety and support from within the university and around the world.  She has inspired other students, even some so close as the same floor of her dorm, to join in the mattress-carrying, awareness-raising, change-demanding movement.  Students all over the world joined together for one day to air out their mattresses and their personal struggles in a demonstration of how poorly sexual assaults are often handled on college campuses everywhere.  Huffington Post reports over 10,000 RSVPs for “attending” on the facebook event page for the protest.

Now, I’ve written about this issue before, both in my “Objectification Nation” post and in my “Not So Frat-tastic” post, so it should come as no surprise that I’ve been following this as well.  What should surprise you, is that there haven’t been many responses from schools.  This article from Time.com displays link after link of investigative reporting and opinion reporting of sexual assaults on campuses (specifically regarding their handling by administration).  That in itself should show you this isn’t one person’s problem.  This isn’t one school’s problem.  This isn’t even one country’s problem.  This is something that affects all of us and it needs to be addressed until it’s changed.  Whether we use demonstrations, articles, petitions, or simple conversations, we need to keep reminding ourselves and others that problems like this exist because we let them, and we shouldn’t continue that cycle.

Objectification Nation

I published a post regarding sexual assault and its links to fraternities a while ago.  Now, the reality is that sexual assault (especially at large universities), is everywhere.  It’s often not reported, it’s often handled poorly (or not at all), and it certainly isn’t punished the way it is in the real world.  The world of being a woman at college is dangerous in lots of different arenas.  I know, because I am one.  I face this every day.  I still remember being catcalled for the first time my freshman year of college.  I also remember the second, the third, and every subsequent one it took me to realize I was not being complimented.  I was being objectified and harassed, simply for waiting at a bus stop or going to the grocery store.  This article compiles all the awful things (admittedly, extreme examples mostly) that women like me face in college.  Your mom, your sister, your cousin, your girlfriend, your wife; they’ve all seen or experience things like this.  We’ve all seen countless campaigns, pamphlets, slogans, and PSAs about assault and related topics.  What else can we do to put an end to this?

Not So Frat-tastic

I’m sure a lot of you have heard statistics relating fraternities to higher instances of sexual assault and rape.  It’s no big secret that unhealthy views of women and sexuality can be promoted, especially in environments inundated with alcohol and peer pressure.  However, I can say that this is the first time I’ve seen a serious suggestion for the banning of all fraternities.  For once, I don’t know that I have a clear opinion on what the right answer is.  I feel there are probably other options too, tell me what you think!