Sexual Assault: is it Becoming an Addition to the College Lifestyle?
It is labeled as the best four years of anyone who is granted the opportunity to attend any university. It is a time where an individual can decide who they are and what they want to become. While this is an accurate piece of information, it also raises the question, does college promote a rape culture that is seen in society today? Often with sites, such as I’m Shmacked and others, who posts videos of college drinking, presumably of underage students. These sites promote the damaging act of binge drinking, which can lead to negative choices. Additionally, the banners many fraternities display at major universities welcoming students back, promoting the indecency and undermining the well-being of women on campus. In recent light of the Brock Turner case of sexual assault, does the darker side of this promotion come to light. Statistics show 28% of women who attend college will sadly be a victim to these malleolus acts (Diamond, vi). Are sexual assaults becoming an addition to the college experience?
Whereas schools with high fraternity populations are becoming notorious for their welcoming signs to incoming freshman. Just recently, Old Dominion University punished fraternities for hanging signs with vulgar messages towards freshman daughters and mothers of incoming students. Other schools, such as West Virginia University, were sighted with signs that read, “She called you daddy for 18 years, now it’s our turn” (“”WVU Freshman Welcome Sign””). This only perpetuates the notion of sexual encounters on campus, seeming highly promiscuous and sexist. Just within the last two years, numerous schools have suspended Greek life on college campuses around the country. This past month, University of California-Berkeley student leaders decided to halt all Greek life gatherings due to two cases of sexual assault allegations arising after an off campus fraternity party (Grenoble). Previously in 2015, West Chester University and Pennsylvania State University had all Greek life suspended on their campuses. A fraternity on Penn State’s campus had been posting pictures of women, some nude or unconscious, on a Facebook page which led to the police being notified (Snyder). At West Chester University, a student was arrested and charged with three counts of rape while at Kappa Delta Rho fraternity house. This incident marked the sixth sexual assault reported to police by West Chester University that school year (The Associated Press).
As sites, such as I’m Shmacked and TotalFratMove, post videos to their social media of the hijinks college students take part in, college partying seems to be the link to the majority of the sexual assaults that occur. I’m Shmacked, which was founded by two college students, travel from college to college filming wild parties happening on and off college campuses. Eventually they began to grow larger as the business venture increased in momentum. Most notably, they are being blamed for almost inciting a riot while a surprise appearance at the University of Delaware which led to multiple club programs and student suspensions. Huffington Post reported that several thousand students marched down the street after a party at a rugby house sponsored by I’m Shmacked. The report claimed property was damaged, as students were observed climbing on top of cars and damaging street signs (Kingkade). Even their tag line is “a new way to scout colleges” on the official Instagram (Toufanian).
If one looked through the posts, there is nothing but attractive women and video clips of individuals participating in binge drinking. Binge drinking is when an individual consumes a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time (Bridges et al., 2). Taking part in this act can be highly damaging to the body and can lead to alcohol poisoning. While the videos posted lasts for about 10-50 seconds, individuals are shown chugging multiple cans of beer. Ironically, not in a single post can one read about the academic status nor ranking of the college campuses they visit. With TotalFratMove, similar posts can be observed. The only difference is the majority of the posts used are from fraternities around the country at various colleges. Individuals increase the amount of binge drinking, hoping to make it onto the highlight video one of these organization posts. Their actions put themselves in an extremely riskier place than the norm, leading to regretful decisions. As a common catalyst of reported sexual assaults on campuses includes alcohol. Campus Safety Magazine released a statistic that 1 in every 3 sexual assaults, the perpetrator was under the influence of alcohol (Gray). As binge drinking becomes more popular to post by these sites, individuals do not realize they are putting themselves at an alarming chance to either become the victim or transgressor in a case.
Looking at one of the more infamous cases of Brock Turner, who was the perpetrator in a sexual assault case. Brock Turner was a former student and a Division I swimmer at the prestigious Stanford University. Mr. Turner was attending a party on campus in which he consumed enough alcohol to have a .171 blood alcohol level. As the evening persisted on, he was eventually discovered behind a dumpster sexually assaulting an unconscious female. He then proceeded to run from the discoverers and was caught, then held till the authorities arrived. The female victim’s blood alcohol level estimated at .22-.24 at the time of the assault (Hamilton). An actual statement made by Brock Turner after the incident that if he saw the victim again, “he would not even be able to recognize her” (Branson-Potts). After being convicted of three felonies of sexual assault, he was released after three months of serving his six-month sentence in county jail. The impact this case has left on the nation is immeasurable. This case served as a statement to the country and college campuses that sexual assault is not something that is a major issue. Individuals who come from prominence are well protected by a system that is supposed to administer justice on behalf of the victimized.
As a current student of Rutgers and seeing the main campus is one of the top schools for sexual assaults is alarming. Rutgers University was voted the “sluttiest school in America” in 2013, meaning the students who attend here are seen as the most promiscuous in the country (“Rutgers ranked #1 Sluttiest school in America.”). As opposed to that ranking, Rutgers was top ten in sexual assaults in the country the following year. There were 32 rapes reported on the New Brunswick campus (Anderson). While students may cheer at being voted the most promiscuous school in the nation, it also comes with negative connotations. The rate that which sexual assaults are occurring are demeaning. These national headlines where students, who should be leaders of their class, are committing these vulgar acts are shameful. In addition, to destroying their own reputation, they are damaging colleges. Having to file as a registered sex offender can ruin a person’s life. There are limitations on what jobs they can have, where they can move and costly to their personal life. Sadly, knowing there will be consequences for their actions, students still carry out sexual assaults.
Consequently, colleges across the country have established preventive measures to limit the occurrence of sexual assaults. Establishing a transition from high school to college is crucial in this process, as students are going from highly supervised to practically unattended. With the mandatory AlcoholEdu, every student is given knowledge on alcohol consumption and the effect it has on the body. Presenting students with the resources and guidance to make smarter decisions will have a lasting impact on their life. Hoping to decrease the amount of binge drinking that occurs on college campuses, it will correlate with a decrease in the amount of sexual assaults. In addition, freshman students are educated about sexual assault during orientations. Presentations on what consent truly is and interpreting when any individual, male or female, is not able to provide that has been a focal point. Under Title IX, a federal law passed, “When a student has experienced a hostile environment such as sexual assault or severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive sexual harassment, schools must stop the discrimination, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects” (Bolger). This will force schools to not hide the potential damaging cases of sexual assaults and force them to take preventive actions in limiting occurring cases. As many schools now realize it is better to be proactive than reactive, especially in sensitive cases such as these. Even the Brock Turner case provided a glimpse of hope, as the result of this case forced California to change its laws on what defines rape, now covering more than before. In addition, the mandatory minimum sentencing of three years was put into place for an individual who is convicted of assaulting an unconscious or intoxicated person (Dillon).
To sum up the points provide, college sexual assaults are becoming part of college for some, but there is hope for the better. Schools are becoming more chastising towards fraternities that promote indecency towards women. As well as banning sites such as I’m Shmacked to advertise college campuses in their videos. Furthermore, the outcome of the Brock Turner case, having a lasting impact on the nation, changed the way people discuss sexual assaults. Title IX also protects an individual and forces schools to use averting measures. Studies have shown educating students during their first year of college helps decrease the chances of risky decisions being made (Scott-Sheldon, Lori A. J. et al.). Hopefully towards the future, sexual assaults will be seen as a thing of the past, and the simple college lifestyle will return.