Campus Rape Victims Find a Voice

With students headed back to school, a coalition of students and activists are coming together to change how universities handle sexual assault

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knowyourix.org

Student activists launched Know Your IX, which provides information on students' Title IX rights, on Tuesday.

One December night in 2010, Tucker Reed and her then-boyfriend of two weeks attended a party hosted by fellow students at the University of Southern California. When the couple arrived back at Reed’s apartment, Reed later said, her then-boyfriend, at that point drunk, forced her to have sex as Reed repeatedly denied consent, according to Reed.  Reed said she didn’t realize that her experience was rape until much later, and she filed with university authorities in 2012.

Reed said she gave the school a recording of then-boyfriend admitting the rape. The school dismissed her case citing a lack of evidence. The proceedings were like a second rape, Reed said.

“I started blogging about my experiences inspired by the feeling that I had been so alone when I was going through this originally,” Reed said. “I Googled ‘raped by my boyfriend,’ and really couldn’t find anything that was applicable to my situation.”

Since Reed started writing, she has gathered a group of over 100 other U.S.C. students who have similar stories of administrative neglect. They filed a formal complaint against the school to the Department of Education this May, and the department’s Office of Civil Rights has since opened an investigation into the school.

That investigation has joined scores of others that are stacking up against universities across the nation. Two weeks ago, Cedarville University, a Christian college in Cedarville, Ohio, was the latest to join U.S.C. and 27 other schools currently under scrutiny for sexual violence-related Title IX violations, including Dartmouth College, the University of North Carolina, Princeton University and Harvard Law School.

By the end of July, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights had received 48 complaints regarding Title IX violations related to sexual violence–more complaints than it had received in any full recent year, according to department spokesman Jim Bradshaw. Though Title IX is commonly associated with creating opportunities for women in sports, its original passage by Congress in 1972 also concerned sexual harassment in schools, and by extension, sexual assault.

(MORE: As Students Prepare To Return, Yale Faces New Scrutiny For Rape Policy)

Most experts say that the rate of campus sexual assault has largely remained constant: one-quarter to one-fifth of college women will experience rape or attempted rape before graduating. The recent outpouring of complaints from students across the country, they say, isn’t because campus sexual assaults are on the rise, but due to the steadily rising level of organization and activism among survivors.

Campus sexual assault is notoriously under-reported. According to a Department of Justice study based on surveys of over 4,000 female students, at a school of 10,000 female students, around 350 or more will become victims of rape. Meanwhile, in 2011, the University of Southern California – a school with around 40,000 students – reported 15 total sexual assaults surrounding all nine of its campuses. The University of Colorado, Boulder, which is also under federal investigation and has more than 30,000 students, lists six incidents.

In the fall of 2012, Amherst College student paper, The Amherst Student, published an article written by former student Angie Epifano, which described her alleged rape in a dormitory and consequent struggles with campus administrators.

Epifano’s raw account became so popular that the newspaper’s website crashed, overburdened by visitors. Victims at other colleges began talking, writing and tweeting about their own experiences.

“Their stories are always the same,” said Caroline Heldman, a professor at Occidental College and co-complainant against the college for Title IX violations. “Yes, my rape was bad, but the college is not treating me well.”

(MORE: Whither Goes Free Speech at Harvard?)

Victims are coalescing into an informal student movement joined across campuses with the help of social media. Calling themselves the “IX Network,” the survivors consult with each other as they file complaints against their schools or lobby their college administrations for change. On Tuesday morning, many of those involved in the network launched the website Know Your IX, which provides guidance for those interested in filing complaints against their schools.

“It became this kind of chain reaction of survivors hearing other men and women’s stories and deciding that enough was enough, and that it was time to stand up and really do something about it,” said Amherst senior Dana Bolger, who is a co-coordinator for Know Your IX.

The student movement is being matched by increased vigilance on the part of the federal government and universities, said Brett Sokolow, the president and CEO of the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management Group, which consults and represents campuses for issues including Title IX.

The Department of Education has released a handful of documents in recent years intending to more clearly guide schools’ implementation of Title IX, and Congress passed the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act at the end of February.

But higher education watchers worry that universities have a reason to drag their heels on becoming more vigilant when it comes to assault on campus: a significant spike in the number of rapes reported on campus could scare away applicants and damage the school’s reputation.

“The national movement is so important because if only a few people are telling the truth, if only a few campuses are telling the truth, it will hurt them,” Heldman says. “But if everyone starts telling the truth, then we have a radical rethinking of higher education.”

As more complaints and investigations arise, universities will be forced to modify their adjudication and reporting procedures. One thing is clear: schools have a new, powerful force to answer to beyond the federal government.

When Reed posted her experiences to her blog, called Covered in Bandaids, sharing those stories gave her a new feeling of agency over her own experiences. “I went public with the fact that this happened to me and I wasn’t ashamed of it, and I felt instantly better,” she says. “It became something that happened to me that I wasn’t carrying around like a secret shame.”

MORE: It’s Not Just Yale: Are Colleges Doing Enough to Combat Sexual Violence?

7 comments
voiceofreason120
voiceofreason120

Sorry but this rape hysteria is a bunch of BS. As pointed out the Department of Justice study (a reputable study) shows that no were near 1/4 or 1/5 of women will experience rape in college. The 1/4 statistic comes from an outdated questionnaire that used faulty methodology to come to that number.


Lets get something strait, rape is when a women is FORCED to have sex with a man she does not want to. A women would no she was raped because she would have physically struggled to a degree a reasonable women would when avoiding rape. She would shout, she would do a plethora of things to get out of a sexual situation if she did not want to be there.

What is happening right now is that feminists are brainwashing girls, convincing them that they have been raped, trying to artificially get as close to the 1/4 statistic as possible. The case of Tucker Reed perfectly exemplifies this. In the article is says "she did not know she was raped" until much later. What this means is that she was most likely not raped but she was later convinced she was because she regretted that sexual encounter. What makes her case even more suspect is that she has never outlined what exactly happened that night.

Feminists are brainwashing girls to think that if they regret a sexual encounter while, or after if occurred, it was rape. Simply saying "no" at first, and then reciprocating sexual actions, does not mean it was rape. "Feeling intimidated" when a man asks her for sexual favors, and going along, does not mean it was rape. What is rape is when a women has to fight to get out of the sexual scenario, when a women is forcefully penetrated.

This current hysteria is because college kids get drunk, have sex, and then femenists tell the girls that if they were drunk when they had sex they were raped, or if they regret it they were raped. I personally hope the male victims of these false accusations bring in defamation law suits against their accusers to let women know that only real rapes should be reported, not fantasies.

dragonheart
dragonheart

Let's really get something straight.  No means no period.  What would the level of struggle have to be for it to be a "real" rape?  Would she have to gouge one of his eyes out?  Who are you to decide it wasn't real?  That is for a court of law to do.  All we have to go on is what is stated in this article.  Such as the fact that he confessed!   You weren't there.  Have you ever been raped, or helped people that have?   How awful to be in a brand new relationship, and be forced to progress it more than she was ready for.   She had no support system, and only time and distance made her realize that she wasn't alone.  In fact the most common type of rape is date rape where the victim knows the perpetrator to some degree.   The incidence of false reporting is less than one percent.  As for the statistics, many more people never report because they get treated like this by people like you.   Whatever the true percentage is in my book any percentage is too much.  Also how is this a feminist issue?  This is a human issue.  No one should be forcefully made to do something they don't want to do.  I'm sure some of those statistics of rape victims are male as well, and I care just as much for them. Human rights need to be respected, and not pushed off as a "feminist" issue.



EmilyMontan
EmilyMontan

When I was in college 1976-86 we had annual Take Back the Night events to protest college administration's lack of handling rape on campus.  This was both at Rutgers University and University of Maryland, College Park.  It appears NOTHING has changed.  When will crimes against women be handled with vigilance and care?  If a woman defends herself and murders the rapist, she is jailed.  If a college student tries to get the administration to protect her, they protect the school and the rapists.

This must stop!  As times change, this issue does not.  Neither does partner battering...   BTW the number of women who have "cried rape" and weren't is so minutely small.  It doesn't matter how we dress or who we have sex with, when we say no we mean no. No matter what condition a person is in, she should not have to worry about rape, no is no. Wisonsinmom has apparently never been raped - neither have I but I know women who have.  Also she is perpetuating the myth that women ask to be raped.  WE DON'T!

Universities and colleges who accept money from students for tuition and fees are responsible for students' health and safety.  Stop this discrimination now.  Pursue rapist on your campuses as vigilant as protestors.

voiceofreason120
voiceofreason120

@EmilyMontan get real. Do you know what rape is? If a girl is raped she will have the evidence to show it. Its not the university's job to police criminal acts, its the police's job. If a girl is really raped she can go to the police and press charges. Then the courts can decide what really happened, not some councillor at the university that you seem to want to convince the girl that she actually was raped.

Wisconsinmom
Wisconsinmom like.author.displayName 1 Like

It seems that more often than not these cases involves large amounts of alcohol. As the mother of three boys I have stressed to that if they get drunk they loose their natural intelligence. What they think happened and what any girl with them think happened will be two different things. It will be her word against yours and she can ruin your reputation. It is better to 1) remain sober and 2) to avoid casual sex.

rohit57
rohit57 like.author.displayName 1 Like

I hope that the opposite issue, of innocent men not being victimized will also be addressed.  (I know some actual cases of such victimization).

There was a recent case involving a professor at the University of Miami who was asked to resign after charges of sexual harassment.  In his case, it seems that he did act badly and should have been punished.  There still remains the question of whether the punishment was disproporionate.  Could he  not be asked to take enforced and unpaid leave for a period rather than destroying his career?

In general America tends to believe in the philosophy  that the best way to protect A is to punish B, and the more severely the better.  This is why we imprison people at nine times the rate of Germany and also the reason why we are in Afghanistan and Iraq (and Iran?, and Syria?) in the first place.  We LOVE to punish and never mind Jesus, both liberals and conservatives like to engage in this hobby.

So let there be protection for female students.  But there also be fairness for those who are accused.  And given that bullying is four times as common as sexual harassment, let THAT be addressed as well.

People SHOULD be protected. But being vindictive towards the "perp" might not be the most efficient way.

postingonline42
postingonline42

@rohit57 you say you know some actual cases, yet you show no proof that the cases were of innocent males. I would suspect at least one of you cases (unless you know only 2 cases and they both involve the same woman or group of women) the males are lying to avoid punishment. After all, a lot of uncles, priests, dads are "falsely" accused all the time because "they are good people, they would never do that!"

However, I do agree that modern after-the-fact punishment probably isn''t the best. One solution i would support would be to give the ladies guns and teach them to use them. If you are concerned about false assaults, put a camera and sound recorder on each gun that starts up when the safety is turned off to prevent "false" self-defense. 

If you don't like guns, there should at least be castration for repeat offenders. If they don't learn after the first time, solve the problem and release them, fully "fixed" and forgiven, back into their careers and lives. 

But these things would make too much sense, so we can't actually implement them.

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