Awareness of Sexual Harassment on College Campuses

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  • Sexual harassment, unfortunately, is a disturbing issue within American culture that is alive and well. College campuses across the country have one thing in common: sexual harassment is widespread and shows little signs of abating. The statistical data surrounding sexual harassment on college campuses is nothing short of disturbing.

    Shocking Statistics

    The American Association of University Women reveals that 60% of postsecondary students–male and female–report experiencing sexual harassment on college campus.  As might be expected, however, female students are more likely to be subjected to sexual harassment than men.  In 1996, The National College Women Sexual Victimization Study polled 4,446 female students attending 2 and 4-year institutions of higher learning.  Shockingly, for every 1,000 female students, 35 of the 1,000 reported having experienced acts of rape.  The alarming information continues:  for every 35 rape victims, 9 out of 10 victims actually knew the perpetrators.

    In 2014, The Washington Post provided analysis concerning campus crime data from 2012; and The Washington Post revealed this:  “A rising number of college students are stepping forward to report sexual harassment at universities.”  The Washington Post went on to list a number of well-known universities such as Penn State, Harvard, University of Michigan/Ann Arbor, and Ohio State University/Main Campus and a slew of other college campuses where sexual harassment was a concerning issue.  The analysis went on to reveal that almost 4,000 cases of reported forcible sex offenses occurred on college campuses, nationwide in 2012.  According to the study, that number had increased by 50% over the three previous years.

    The Many Faces of Sexual Harassment

    Sexual harassment on college campuses is not unlike sexual harassment at workplaces, but students may feel they have more leeway on a campus versus employers or employees who commit unacceptable conduct in the workplace. 

    Campus sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to, the following:

    • whistling
    • intense staring
    • lusty comments such as: “Can I have a piece of that?” or “Hey sexy!”
    • intentionally brushing up against someone
    • unsolicited touching or groping
    • exposing body parts to unsuspecting bystanders

    Though many may consider these types of behaviors as ‘expected’ on college campuses and quite harmless, that type of misguided thinking is oblivious to how the consequences of sexual harassment can have a profoundly negative impact on students’ abilities to concentrate as well as students’ desires to attend classes.

    A study polled 282 students who were undergraduate, graduate and part-time students and the results indicated the following:

    • 46% of the 282 students became disappointed with their college experienc
    • 20% said sexual harassment directly caused an inability to concentrate on their studies
    • 23% said sexual harassment prevented attendance in classes and/or social activities

    Be Proactive

    Any young adult who is ready to enter the college world should navigate through their choice of colleges or universities and do the following:

    Ask if the school is in compliance with Title lX of the Education Amendments of 1972.  Title lX covers many areas of human rights, including how to effectively address sexual harassment.  Colleges must have an established procedure for handling complaints regarding sexual harassment or sexual violence.  If, as a student, you were to file a sexual harassment complaint, the school would be legally obligated to take immediate action and could issue a no-contact directive as well as initiate other protective accommodations for sexual-harassment victims.

    Make sure your school protects against sexual harassment on college campuses.  Go to a university’s on-line site and find their ‘annual security report’.  That report should reveal how compliant the school is regarding a new law which requires institutions of higher learning to combat and minimize sexual harassment and sexual violence.

    Mike Miranda is a writer and pr person for Clear Law Institute.

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