Quick Takes — Addressing Sexual Assault

    Sexual assault remains a pressing concern at college campuses throughout the United States. The opinion section takes a look at the problem from the perspective of three solution areas.

    Student Advocacy Promotes Consent Campaigns, Prompts University Action

    Introducing campaigns focused on reducing sexual assault on university campuses is a good strategy for altering rape culture. University of California Student Association’s UConsent campaign, which started this academic year, focuses on awareness, education and advocacy about providing sexual consent.

    For evidence of positive impacts, take a look at the most recent rape case at Stanford University. Only one year ago, Stanford was one of 55 universities under investigation for mishandling sexual assault and harassment under the gender equity law Title IX. According to the Huffington Post, the list was requested to be made public by numerous student activists at universities across the U.S. According to Daily Mail, between 1975 and 2009, only four of 175 reported sexual assaults at Stanford were properly investigated.

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    However, since the public release of this list, it appears that Stanford is trying to make a change for the better. Recently, Stanford student and athlete Brock Turner was banned from the Stanford campus for attempting to rape an unconscious woman. Unlike the prior cases, this case was handled right: The student faced a trial, was banned from campus and faced no special treatment despite being a potential Olympic athlete. In addition, it should be noted that bystander intervention also played a part as two other students intervened to prevent the rape.

    What happened at Stanford is a good example of how awareness of the sexual consent can make a positive change. Public awareness pressured the university to handle rape cases differently, while student intervention stopped the rape from occurring. The efforts of student advocacy within programs such as UConsent make results like these possible.

    — Ayat Amin Senior Staff Writer

    Legislative Action Within Political System Paves Way for New Policies

    Starting in 2013, sexual assault finally began receiving the legislative attention necessary to combat an epidemic of negligence with regard to how sexual assault is perceived and treated by universities.

    Title IX of the Education Amendments, which prohibits sexual discrimination in educational programs, including the manner in which cases are addressed, was passed in 1972. However, it did not clearly specify how complaints were to be handled. Although the law functioned, it allowed for a plethora of loopholes.

    In 2013, President Obama enacted the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act that required proper wording in sexual assault policies and focused on raising awareness for prevention and case management. However, representatives from the UC Office of the President told the UCSD Guardian that the federal government still did not explain how universities should implement these policies.

    Hence, California legislators passed multiple laws in the last couple of years ensuring that at least some of the loopholes are closed and that victims can feel safe reporting assaults.

    The much-discussed Senate Bill 967, also known as “Yes Means Yes,” is the first law that explains the significance of consent and finally removes the umbrella of the ambiguous “no” used to shelter perpetrators.

    Furthermore, although victims of revenge porn are not always physically hurt, their reputation and mental health can be harmed. SB 1255 makes it a misdemeanor to distribute explicit or nude videos or photos of individuals, regardless of who shot them, without their consent.

    Sexual assault is horrifying, but, unfortunately, it does happen. It is imperative that victims are given closure by being recognized as victims under the law. While there is work to be done in terms of prevention and treatment, the past couple of years demonstrate that a shift toward an equitable, just policy is indeed taking place.

    Tina Butoiu News Editor

    Media Focus on Rampant Culture of Sexual Assault Brings Change

    Recently, sexual assault cases have been getting a lot of attention in the media — and rightly so. Rape, molestation or any type of sexual battery deserves to be brought to attention so that people will know that these are serious crimes with serious consequences. Hopefully, the publicity surrounding these cases shows that rape in America is changing toward something that we view as a seriously heinous and disgusting crime.

    A January 2014 post from the official White House Blog urges both women and men to “change [the] culture of passivity and tolerance [toward sexual assault] in this country.” This post also mentions that nearly one in five women is raped or sexually assaulted. This astonishing number suggests the ubiquity of these types of crimes, yet up until recently, these cases have not garnered much attention. Such a high number of sexual assault cases shows that this is a serious problem in America, and Americans need to be made aware of this issue.

    A TIME opinion article notes that rape culture is when the victim is blamed and gets asked questions along the lines of “Were you drinking?” If a sexual encounter occurred without consent, then the issue of drinking is irrelevant. The New York Daily News does not describe the Brock Turner case — an ex-Stanford swimmer who is being charged with several accounts of sexual battery — in terms of what the victim was doing. Instead, they describe the case and why it is unlawful. No means no, and if someone violates this, then hopefully the media’s portrayal will foster a culture of intolerance toward rape.

    Rosina Garcia Senior Staff Writer

     

     

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