Complaints of sexual assault in 9 universities during “red zone” protests |

The fraternities are again at the center of allegations of violence, of violent reactions on several campuses.

Eric Ward / Unsplash

Tracey Vitchers, executive director of the national It’s On Us Against Violence campaign, lashed out at higher education leaders on social media last week amid the many allegations of sexual assault that have been made since the start of the fall semester:

“College administrators: Stop using the ‘Sexual assault prevention education should start before college’ excuse to avoid blame for rape culture on campus,” Vitchers wrote. “No one is saying it’s not necessary. It should. You also have a legal and moral responsibility to invest in prevention.

The recent allegations of sexual assault have sparked protests across the country, especially from women who feel unsafe or unprotected in these communities. Auburn University, the University of Kansas, the University of Iowa, Wichita State University, the University of Eastern Michigan, and the University of Nebraska have all been swept away by accusations that crimes could have been committed on campuses – in residences, at football games, at fraternity houses and even in libraries.

The looming specter of threats led a governor on Monday to double his mission of trying to prevent rape and assault from happening at post-secondary institutions. Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania made $ 1 million in grants available to institutions as part of his state’s It’s On Us campaign. Now, he says, it’s time for them to step up.

“Pennsylvania’s college and university campuses need to be safe places for all students,” Wolf said. “Sexual assault cannot be tolerated and we all have a responsibility to promote healthy relationships. “

More than 75 institutions in that state, including many two-year colleges, have received $ 5 million since 2016 to help forge awareness and prevention strategies. A portion of these grants is also used to provide access for students to report sexual assault and misconduct. In 2019, Wolf enacted a bill that requires colleges to offer students to anonymously report sexual assault online. But the Association of American Universities notes that even though students know what constitutes sexual assault and how to report it, the majority still don’t feel comfortable coming forward, in part because they fear repercussions. In fact, 90% of all undergraduate women who are sexually assaulted never report it. Beyond the physical violence, victims experience emotional trauma, a third drop out of post-secondary education, and 40% say they feel betrayed by their colleges and universities.

“Institutions within the AAU and other colleges and universities must continue to educate students on how to report sexual assault and misconduct,” wrote Mary Sue Coleman, former AAU president and past president. from the University of Michigan, after the study was published. “As a result of our surveys, we now know that schools should continue to focus their efforts and educational resources on new freshmen, as they are clearly more vulnerable to sexual assault and misconduct than their more classmates. aged. “

Where is it happening

Even when resources are plentiful and awareness is heightened, assault or harassment does occur, especially during a period known as the “red zone” – the six week timeframe at the start of the semester when most incidents occur. produce. According to Clery Act Timely Warnings as noted by Police and Public Safety at Penn State University, 11 “forced sex offenses” were reported this fall on campus, the majority in college dorms plus two during a football game.

At Auburn University, three sexual assault complaints have been filed by victims in the past week. This not only sparked a protest on campus from the students, but also led to administrators proposing a city hall tomorrow. Prior to this meeting and in response to the community, Auburn responded to these incidents with this statement:

“The three cases reported this week – one in a dorm, one on a campus sidewalk, and one in a fraternity house – have only intensified our engagement. Auburn prohibits sexual harassment and personal power-based violence. We take steps to prevent it through a variety of sexual assault awareness and witness intervention programs, as well as security programs and resources. When a crime is officially reported by a member of our University community, the University is in a position to take even more aggressive action to help victims of crime and hold those responsible to account. In the current situation, the victims of the three recent incidents have chosen not to file police reports or formal complaints with the university or local police, and we support their right to do so.

Eastern Michigan University President James Smith said this week that the institution is beginning to review a long list of reports of sexual assault involving two fraternities: Delta Tau Delta and Alpha Sigma Phi. EMU is also trying to push back lawsuits brought in May by plaintiffs who allege the university’s Title IX agents were negligent in their protection. There were also three allegations of sexual assault that occurred in late August and early September in university halls of residence or parking lots.

“The university is keenly aware of recent concerns expressed by some students and others regarding their safety and the university’s handling of sexual assault cases,” Smith said in a statement. “I take these concerns very seriously, as any failure to ensure that our students feel safe is incompatible with our institutional values. No student can learn in a dangerous environment.

Defending oneself

Students are getting louder and more demanding in their protests, and are using social media as a vehicle to spread the word.

After a sexual assault complaint was made public against a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at the University of Kansas, students lined the steps leading to his house last week to chant aloud “Kick Him Out.” And “We Believe Her”. Two and a half hours south at Wichita State University, students protested the allegation of sexual assault in one of the dorms last week.

Some of the protests, such as those at Loyola University in Chicago and the University of Iowa where incidents were reported, have targeted Title IX policies and police on what students are saying. be a lack of quick answers, even when there is overwhelming evidence in the prosecution of potential perpetrators. Protesters in Iowa walked out of class and staged a sit-in on the lawn of the President’s residence. Property was also vandalized around the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity – FIJI, for short – where protesters demonstrated after a sexual assault complaint on September 5. That same fraternity was suspended three weeks ago at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln after a minor was reported raped at a party at her off-campus home. More than a dozen women have since come forward, claiming they were also sexually assaulted at the fraternity house. Student protesters held a candlelight vigil for victims and others who suffered sexual violence.

And at the University of Massachusetts, hundreds of protesters have called for the Theta Chi fraternity to be suspended or banned for allegations of multiple sexual assault by its members. A Change.org petition already has more than 20,000 signatures, but UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said in a statement: Social media platforms.

Colleges and universities have been trying to stem the trend of misconduct and fall crime for decades, but the problem persists. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center notes that more than 50% of incidents that occur on campuses occur from August to November.

Here are some of the other statistics from the Center, which also has a huge database of resources for those who wish to try to end sexual violence:

  • In 2018, more than 725,000 people were raped (including threats, attempted rapes and rapes) in the United States
  • Over 90% of female victims say they have been raped by an intimate partner or acquaintance
  • Almost a quarter of all women report being sexually assaulted at one of the 33 major universities
  • About 16% of women and 10% of men say they have been forced to have sex at some point in their life
  • The prevalence of false declarations for these crimes is between 2% and 10%, as for other crimes
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