Reporting on Sexual Assault

It is uncomfortable and almost unspeakable, but we have to talk about sexual assault on campus. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 1 in 5 college women and 1 in 16 college men who have likely been a victim of some form of sexual assault.

The Outlook Staff weighs in to discuss the awareness of sexual assault on campus and the impact it has had as April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This semester the Monmouth University Police Department (MUPD) stated that they have received two reports of sexual misconduct and one report of sexual assault on campus. However, many editors believe that there are more sexual assaults and misconducts on campus and off campus that go unreported.

One editor brought up the statistic that The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) provided: only 20 percent of sexual assault cases are reported on college campuses. According to the University site, “Many victims do not report because they are afraid of what others may say or think. They feel like what happened is their fault because they were drinking or they went someplace they had been warned could be dangerous.”

Awareness is crucial on campus. “Being vocal is what not just the University needs, but society needs to be more vocal about this topic. We are the ones who can bring light to these situations and we are the ones who can break down the stigma that men can’t also be sexually assaulted. We need to speak up when things happen to us or the ones around us and we need to be able to shed light on the ones that go unheard and the people who can’t speak for themselves,” said an editor.

The University has held several successful programs to help inform the students about sexual assault. They annually hold the “Take Back the Night” event in the fall and the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event in the spring. They held the empty desk demonstration across campus last fall as well as the poster campaign. There is Sexual Assault Awareness Week where the University holds a series of educational events on campus throughout the week. HAVEN is also available to students, which is an awareness training program.

Starting in the summer, all incoming freshman are going to be required to complete an online sexual misconduct training course according to Mary Ann Nagy, Vice President for Student Life and Leadership Engagement. Students will have from Aug. 1 to Sept. 15 to complete the course. If they do not complete the course, they will be blocked from spring registration. New staff members will also be required to take the course as of July and all transfer students will be required to take the course as of the fall of 2018.  

The editors brought up some initiatives the school could take to raise more awareness for sexual assault, the first being to talk about it more. An editor said, “People don’t like to talk about rape because it is an uncomfortable topic, but it’s real. It happens. So we need to talk about it, and we need to integrate these discussions into class discussions where students have no choice but to talk about it.”

Some staff members recommended that this type of conversation be brought up in first year freshman seminars. A few editors claimed that the movie Hunting Ground, a documentary about the reality of the epidemic of college sexual assault, should be shown to these first year seminar classes so that the conversation about the severity of sexual assault/misconduct is brought up early on in a student’s college career.

While students may not know it, there are many outlets and avenues for discussion about sexual assault/misconduct. One editor said, “The school has a Title IX Coordinator, as well as MUPD, and there are local organizations like 180 Turning Lives Around that are resources for students that are victims/survivors of sexual assault.”

Furthermore, one editor suggested, “The Department of Counseling and Psychological Services is always more than willing to step in and provide mental relief for suffering students in any way they can.”

Sexual assault and the lack awareness of it is a huge problem on campuses nationwide and our staff believes that informing our students is key when combating this issue. Every student should know that resources and outlets are available on and off campus if needed.