CRIME

Opinion: Leaders need to do more to prevent sexual assault on college campuses

IMG_2446Margaux Pope
Oxford Stories
mnpope@go.olemiss.edu

Sexual assault has become a major problem for many college campuses across the country. Here at the University of Mississippi, there have been five sexual assaults reported already during the fall semester of 2017.

The university, along with other universities around the country, are attempting to increase safety on campuses because of sexual assault.

During my freshman year of college, I attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where two of my close friends were sexually assaulted. Both assaults took place during their freshman year at school.

Some may say young women need proper knowledge of how to protect themselves, which is why my father insisted that my sister, Abbey, and I take self-defense classes before college.

At first, Abbey and I thought self-defense classes were not necessary, but after learning about two of my friends being assaulted, I am glad I have the proper knowledge about how to protect myself if I am ever in that situation.

My parents always told me before I left for college to be aware of my surroundings and cautious of what I am drinking at a party, which I have become more cautious of since the rise in sexual assaults.

Although sexual assault is a widely discussed topic, and everyone knows there’s a possibility it could happen, no one ever thinks it will happen to them.

Both of my friends who are victims of sexual assault were assaulted by a boy they knew. In eight of the 10 cases of sexual assault, the victim knows the person who assaulted them.

One boy was a family friend, and he attacked my friend on a Sunday night in her dorm room. She said she had been at the library studying for an exam she would have Monday. She was sound asleep when she heard frantic knocking on her door.

Before she opened her dorm room door, she peered out and saw a familiar face that appeared to be in distress. As soon as she opened the door, he came barging in and immediately forced himself on her. She cried for help, but her roommate was out of town, and no one could hear her.

IMG_2445After hearing her story of being attacked by a family friend, I am leery of who to trust. Only one of my friends reported their assault to the police. Only 19 percent of girls who have been assaulted report the assault to the police.

Some people don’t understand why people don’t come forward about their assault, but many are either scared or embarrassed. Another reason is because very rarely is the attacker convicted of the crime.

With thousands of reports of campus assaults and with many different forms of assault, it is hard to convict all of them. On college campuses, more than 90 percent of sexual assault victims do not report the assault.

Assaults can happen anywhere at any time during the day or night. Sexual assaults are not gender specific, and everyone should be on  alert.

Many times, the attacker is almost never a stranger. Nearly one in five women today are victims of sexual assault, which is 21 percent of female graduates.

Ole Miss is not the only university that has been affected by sexual assault. Many other universities around the country are experiencing the same problems. In order to reduce the number of sexual assaults on college campuses, I believe attackers should face a more serious consequence.

After one of my friends was assaulted, she did not feel comfortable being on campus any longer. She felt her attacker was everywhere she went, making her feel uncomfortable in almost any situation. She never wanted to go out and drink with friends because of the fear that he would find her and attack her again.

13466100_1124613910945303_7470998638365944713_nBecause of this fear, she decided to leave UNC and transfer to another school. Before transferring, it took her two months to finally tell someone about the attack, and another two before she told her parents about the assault.

Everyone copes with the experience differently, which is why I find it is important to always be a reliable listener to a friend in a time of need.

Most universities respond to sexual assault by temporarily shutting down fraternities or banning alcohol, but that isn’t enough. Along with this course of action, universities around the country need to come together to figure out a better way to reduce the amount of campus assaults.

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