All too often, stories of survivors on college campuses, including our own, go viral and reveal the atrocities committed by predatory men. These stories going viral usually come from the survivors themselves, pleading with the public to help keep them safe due to the university’s failure to take action. This should not be a reality for women on college campuses 一 universities must take action by holding the perpetrators accountable and making sure that they prohibit these individuals from walking freely on school grounds.
In order to properly address the issue, administration must tackle this situation at the root by upholding policy. Codes of conduct must be taken more seriously across all college campuses in the U.S. Most importantly, there should be more support given to survivors, and less to the accused — in most situations. A survivor should not have to go to social media for support and help in order to get the school’s attention. School administration must take a more productive role in removing these harmful individuals from the premises at first mention.
There is a sense of reluctance on the part of universities when it comes to expelling abusers and protecting women. From the incident at the University of San Diego in May 2021, to more recently, the pattern of drugging and sexual violence at the University of Southern California 一 it’s clear that something must change. In both incidents, women were vulnerable to the passiveness of administration and had to take matters into their own hands. By garnering public support, the schools had no choice but to take action. However, there are hundreds of women, especially POC, across the country whose stories remain out of public view and are still in danger. Without public scrutiny, there is little optimism that these institutions would have taken the same steps they had.
The dangerous men committing these acts must face harsher consequences. College campuses need to recognize that by slowly reacting to these crimes with little effort, they are showing these men that they can behave this way again and face no consequences. Furthermore, it can be extremely traumatizing for a survivor of sexual assault to be walking around campus, knowing that they can run into their abuser at any given time. Perhaps much worse, though, is that oftentimes, the survivors face harsher punishment by being banned from attending class instead of their abusers or face hoards of people invalidating their experiences. In fact, according to Know Your IX, nearly 40% of students reporting on sexual violence have their education disrupted in the process rather than the abuser.
College campuses need to stop creating safe spaces for sexually violent men and start prioritizing women’s safety. No one should be subjugated to having their abuser in class with them, and at no point in time should they be punished for reporting. At institutions who claim to foster society’s next generation of upstanding citizens, there should be no place for this “Culture of Silence.”