The ‘Do Nothing’ Attitude Toward Sexual Violence

Updated Mar 11, 2015

If anyone out there has a daughter attending or about to attend a so-called place of higher learning in the U.S., after this week you have a legitimate right to wonder A) just how safe she’ll be on campus, and B) if she will be treated with the respect she deserves considering how the whole experience costs your family tens of thousands of dollars annually in tuition and fees.

That’s because Sen. Claire McCaskill’s just-released survey of how 440 higher ed institutions deal with sexual violence on campus is even worse than you might have imagined.

Apparently, schools really believe that, by doing nothing, ignorance masks their sexism.

It doesn’t.

By now, just from that Justice Department finding earlier this year, we know there’s a real problem when just 5 percent of rape victims even report their incident to law enforcement.

So just how bad are things?

We don’t really know.

While experts agree that schools should take “campus climate” surveys, institutions responding to McCaskill’s report show that just 16 percent of the schools actually do “climate” surveys.

In other words, the vast majority of places of higher learning in the U.S. like being totally in the dark when it comes to the state of our daughters’ safety on campus.

The do-nothing attitude just gets worse.

For example, phone hotlines are considered a vital best-practice in reporting sexual violence.

Yet only 51 percent of institutions have hotlines.

And only 44 percent allow online reporting.

Eight percent have neither.

And it all feeds into the general attitude of “don’t call us, we won’t call you.”

According to McCaskill’s report: “Despite the prevalence of campus sexual assaults, about 41% of schools in the national sample reported not having conducted a single investigation in the past five years. More than 81% of private for-profit schools and 77% of institutions with fewer than 1000 students have not conducted any investigations.”

There does seem to be a willingness, however, to report incidents—just not go all the way and do the moral thing—investigate. In some schools there are as many as seven times more incidents than they have investigations.

In all phases, schools just aren’t doing enough in training and protocols for those who can help victims.

And when there’s punishment to mete out, the Greeks and athletic teams are often spared. Only 31% impose fraternity or sorority sanctions, and only half use athletic team sanctions, according to the report.

Get the McCaskill report here:

http://www.mccaskill.senate.gov/SurveyReportwithAppendix.pdf

Go ahead. Show it to friends with daughters. They need to know that the modern college campus is much more hostile to young women than anyone could ever imagine.

Emil Guillermo writes on issues of race for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (www.aaldef.org/blog) Like him at www.facebook.com/emilguillermo.media ; twitter@emilamok