Saturday, February 27, 2010

"A Culture of Indifference"

Feministing has an excellent post on the culture of indifference that enables a sexual assault epidemic to persist unchallenged at most US universities. I can confirm, from personal experience with how universities deal with these matters, that most all of the important points from the post are commonplace at many colleges. For example:
  • Many times, victims drop out of school, while their alleged attackers graduate.
  • Students deemed "responsible" for alleged sexual assaults on college campuses can face little or no consequence for their acts.
  • 75 to 90 percent of total disciplinary actions that schools do report are minor.
  • The full extent of campus sexual assault is often hidden by secret proceedings, shoddy record-keeping, and an indifferent bureaucracy.
All of these are facts that apply to virtually every university in the country. I and others at my undergraduate institution arrived at identical conclusions just based on circumstances particular to that university. It's appalling how widespread and uniform these problems are, and even more appalling how college administrations and student culture turns a blind eye to it.

I'm convinced that it is going to take direct action (be it civil disobedience or class-action legal attacks) of some kind to force (mostly male) administrators to take steps to stop institutionally-sanctioned rape at universities. Of course, this problem is much, much larger than universities and no doubt speaks to deep problems with our (sexist) legal system and culture (e.g. as the post notes: we have college newspapers printing pieces that blame rape victims and women's magazines spreading the myth of "gray rape.")

Something needs to be done, and we can't wait for university big wigs to take care of the problem.

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