Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Higher education and sexual assault

As a campus administrator, I recall every year having to fill out the crime data of the year for publication as per federal requirements. Fortunately, there were little or no instances on campus, just a few fender benders; I credit that with the fact that the campuses were non-traditional (no dorms, social life was elsewhere for the most part).

Have you counted the number of articles that are discussing unresolved (badly handled cases) sexual assaults on traditional campuses? One is too many, but there are enough reported cases that we should be worried about the real number of unreported assaults. This violence is happening to young women, in the prime of their lives, and as the father of a daughter who will be college bound, I worry about her safety.

It seems that campuses are more worried about covering up the issue rather than solving it definitively.  No campus wants those stats on their crime report, but covering it up does not make the problem go away. Case in point and article I read today titled “slaying the messenger” (http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/02/26/unc-charged-student-honor-code-violation-discussing-her-rape-allegation).

 “Landen Gambill took an unusual step after she was sexually assaulted. She reported it. Unusual why? Because the vast majority of rapes go unreported. But now Gambill is the one on trial. The student-run Honor Court at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill informed her last week that it’s charging her with violation of the Honor Code under a statute prohibiting “Disruptive or intimidating behavior that willfully abuses, disparages, or otherwise interferes with another…. so as to adversely affect their academic pursuits, opportunities for university employment, participation in university-sponsored extracurricular activities, or opportunities to benefit from other aspects of University Life. In other words, as the court told Gambill, she could get expelled for saying she was raped”.

What is wrong with this picture?! Everyone is entitled to due process; victim and perpetrator. However, since when has retaliation been the norm? This is not the first case like this, and unfortunately, it will not be the last. Students and parents are not asking for anything special, just a safe place where people can learn. We should be beyond the stage of flippantly accepting these sexual assaults; we should all be feeling rage.

It is about the student right?

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III    

The ETeam

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