Campus sex assault issue takes spotlight

South Bend Tribune

A U.S. Department of Justice report from December 2014 provides some interesting highlights when comparing the rape and sexual assault of female college students and nonstudents from 1995 to 2013.

For instance:

•Student victims were more likely than nonstudent victims to state that the incident was not important enough to report.

•Fewer than one in five female student and nonstudent victims of rape and sexual assault received assistance from a victim services agency.

•Rape and sexual assault of students were more likely than nonstudent victimizations to go unreported to police.

No wonder the new film “The Hunting Ground” has ignited a dialogue about the topic of sexual assault on college campuses.

The film provides dozens of candid interviews with sex assault victims from campuses across the nation, including the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College.

Rape and sexual assault can be one of the most difficult crimes to prove because it typically involves only two people and no other witnesses.

Add to that in most assaults on college campuses either the victim or suspect or both had been drinking and the issue becomes even more clouded.

But there is proof colleges and universities are taking measures to address sexual assault. Saint Mary’s President Carol Ann Mooney recently announced the creation of a task force to take on sexual assault and sexual misconduct on campus.

The task force, which will be made up of students, faculty and administrators, will look for ways to improve the college’s effort to prevent sexual assault and sexual misconduct and assist and support student survivors of sexual assault.

Indiana University South Bend is increasing security on campus, especially at River Crossing on-campus housing, after four sexual assaults were reported on or near the campus since September.

More lights are being added, shrubs trimmed and officials are seeking funding from IU to pay for security cameras and install a fence on the apartment complex’s west edge.

At Purdue University in West Lafayette, a group of students is urging school officials to establish a rape crisis center on campus so that victims can get help sooner, especially after hours.

The medical director at Purdue’s Student Health Center told the Lafayette Journal & Courier that her facility receives 10 to 12 sexual assault cases per year.

Considering the DOJ report, its clear that more must be done to educate students when it comes to sexual assault.

Sexual assault on college campuses is not a new issue and many of the measures being taken now should have been done long ago.

And these are only simple initial steps; universities have plenty more to do to prove they’re seriously addressing the issue.

But it’s a start.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association.