It has been acknowledged that higher education faces a vast
amount of issues which still prevail on college campuses impacting learning
outcomes and success. A college environment is the institutions’ responsibility
and as such, acting upon any issues should be the priority so that their campus
can survive (Birnbaum, 1998).
One of the
most prominent policy issues in higher education is combating sexual assault on
college campuses; how to prevent,
respond, and report. Sexual assault is a prevalent, yet underreported
and disgracing offense issue that impacts the success of college students
(Harnisch & Lebioda, 2016; Skinner & Gross, 2017). The prevalence of
sexual assault among undergraduate student populations is high. In fact, women
in college are at higher risk of rape and experiencing other types of sexual
assault than the general women population. For instance, a campus sexual
assault study reported that 26.1% of women experienced sexual assault, whether
attempt or completed, since entering college; 16% were sexually assaulted while
incapacitated, and 7% experienced physically forced sexual assault
(Romero-Sánchez & Megías, 2015; Graham et al., 2017). Additionally, 6.1% of
men reported to experience sexual assault as an undergraduate student.
Since sexual assault emerged over
thirty years ago, the number of civil actions which allege college’s failure in
preventing sexual assault incremented and has triggered continuous discourse
within the legal community (Brewer, 2015). Many institutions have failed to
comply to following the appropriate procedures when sexual assault has been
institutional struggling factor is getting students to report incidents of
sexual assault. In fact, a recent study revealed that only 12.5% of rape incidents
were reported to higher education officials (Graham et al., 2017).
Consequently, the fact that some college students do not fully understand what
is considered a sexual assault encounter, it is not perceived as a crime for
which approximately more than half of undergraduate women who encountered
sexual assault are under this assumption.
It is necessary to precisely
elaborate since at some higher education institutions their student body does
not embody a standard of caution and respect towards sexual assault. Efforts
should be made in working towards ensuring that today’s college students become
agents of sexual assault interventions; advocating for oneself and the
community as whole. First, higher education practitioners should work towards
creating educational programs that help in clarifying what sexual assault
embodies so that it becomes easier to identify such incidents, and at the same
time, to reduce obstacles that get in the way of students reporting assaults
and looking for assistance. Non-reported rape incidents will prevent colleges
and universities to respond to these incidents appropriately (Graham et al.,
2017; Skinner & Gross, 2017).
Furthermore, to implement Bystander
Intervention Programs (BIPs), in hopes to prevent sexual assaults on college
campuses. This program provides student trainings to assist college students to
identify signal warnings as well as how to intervene to prevent any sexual
assault incidents from happening, aside from teaching students to empower
themselves in order to act upon when someone might be in danger (Murphy, 2017).
Next, for institutions to enact
initiatives such as trainings to resident assistants, resident directors,
departments who wish to be educated on sexual assault, orientation leaders,
diversity educators, to educate prospective students and their families at
family events (New Student Orientations, Family Weekend, etc.) to promote
self-educated online programs where college students can access related
information anytime. Last but not least, our government should focus on
ensuring that universities are held accountable for their legal obligations to
sexual assault through some sort of policy/program with the sole purpose of
prompting colleges and universities to re-examine their institutional policies
for sexual assault and to work towards strengthening their responses to
incidents of sexual assault (Graham et al., 2017).
Although higher education institutions
disagree in various ways, sexual assault as a prevalent and stigmatizing issue
in higher education institutions, colleges and universities must work
collectively towards finding ways in which there are better practices for
prevention, response, and reporting in hopes to creating a much more safe and
welcoming environment for all students.
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. I
hope you can consider this statement and the information included in it.