Colleges Respond to Poll Showing 20 Percent of Female Students Sexually Assaulted

Colleges Respond to Poll Showing 20 Percent of Female Students Sexually Assaulted
Chris Bernardi

Students attending colleges and universities across the United States in 2015 can look forward to new U.S. regulations aimed to protect them against a rising rate of sexual assaults on campus. In attempt to increase responsibility for ending sexual assaults on campus, American colleges and universities will have to follow stricter reporting requirements for sexual assault allegations. In addition, they must provide clear options to those who report an incident of suspected abuse and provide prevention training for students and college employees.

The measures, provisions of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, went into effect July 1st. The new regulations were fueled by several studies and polls showing a drastic spike in sexual assault rates across American college campuses. In a poll that was released last month by the Washington Post and The Kaiser Family Foundation, results showed 20 percent of female and five percent of male college students had been victims of sexual assault on U.S. college campuses during the past four years. The poll surveyed over 1,000 people that either attended or lived on or near a campus and more than 500 colleges across the country.

Tracy Sefl, a board member of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, the largest anti-sexual violence organization in America believes “increased awareness has led to increased recognition of the problem.”

By increasing awareness, advocates of the new regulations hope to flip the script on the astonishing findings that only 12 percent of sexual assault victims report the attacks to their college or local police. Dana Bolger, co-founder of Know Your IX, explains the dilemma a victim faces. “We know that most victims were assaulted by a friend or partner, and there can be a lot of confusion and doubt that comes along with that experience, and hesitation to report [someone] you know or love.”

Do you feel the negative stigma attached to sexual assault victims should bear enough weight to deter them from reporting the crime? Would you feel comfortable reporting a friend or loved one to the university or police? Why or why not?

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