A couple months ago American University (AU) made the news when one of the university’s vice presidents, Gail Hanson, refused to sign off on a $300,000 grant application because it required incoming students to complete mandatory sexual assault training. What was the grant for you ask? The grant would provide help and services to victims of sexual assault and violence. So why not work to prevent it in the first place? AU students rallied in support of the grant being submitted without success.
Every freshman is taught about the dangers of alcohol. But no matter where you go to school, the potential for violence, sexual assault and rape are just as likely as alcohol related incidents. In my attempt to learn more about sexual assault training and prevention on college campuses I realized there is no evidence that such a program works. There are also very few programs in general. Many schools have information on their websites about how to stay safe, with the general don’t walk alone at night, always park in a well lit area, walk with your keys in your hand, etc.
I thought going to college in the middle of nowhere would be safer. I was wrong. Incidents of assault and rape were just as common in rural North Carolina as they are in an urban campus setting. Colleges will always attract a certain type of person looking to hurt someone. But there are also students who become the attacker.
With all the take lately of what a female was wearing when she was raped, and how it was the female’s fault for acting a certain way, I can’t help but wonder what men are taught anymore about rape and sexual assault. I became more concerned when I ran across an article about sexual harassment at Yale University. Among the cruder things a group of fraternity pledges did was march to the Yale Women’s Center with signs saying “We love Yale Sluts”, and gather in a residential quad chanting “No Means Yes”.
These can be put together as harmless college pranks, but the accusations of sexual assault on campus and the administration reaction leads to a much bigger problem. While I’m sure this isn’t limited to Yale, they were put in the spotlight. So I go back to the story about AU, wondering why they wouldn’t want both the grant money to provide services to victims of sexual assault, and also provide prevention programs to new students.
With so little information out there, it would be an excellent opportunity to study the effects of the prevention program. Universities know what the crime rates are on campus, how many of the students are victims, and how many are perpetrators. Take an opportunity like this and watch what happens of the first five years of a prevention program in place. How do those crimes rates change?
It isn’t just about education young women to walk with friends, stay alert, keep your keys in your hands. Prevention training for women should go beyond the basics every female is brought being told to do. Young men must also be taught, what is acceptable, what is not, what is breaking the law, and what is crossing the line, and that neither will be tolerated.
Originally appeared on Fem2.0