Three months have passed since Swarthmore College introduced a centralized sexual assault and harassment reporting system, meant to rectify the many issues exposed in two federal complaints alleging the school has mishandled sexual assault cases on campus. But not everyone is happy with the new system.
Media is powerful. It tells us which voices (and bodies) are valued by society. By paying attention to all types of sexual assault survivors, we not only are sending a message to survivors that we believe they matter—we are also telling rapists that they will not get away with assault just by choosing a victim of a certain race.
Amid an ongoing public debate about alcohol and rape, especially with regard to teenagers and young adults, an ad for Hope Pregnancy Center in Thursday’s Texas A&M newspaper asks students if a night out at the local bars “[made] them” pregnant.
Swarthmore is among a number of colleges and universities that are being investigated by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights for violating Title IX by creating a “hostile environment” and discouraging students from reporting or pursuing disciplinary action against sexual misconduct.
Antiquated ideas about women’s sexuality are extremely damaging. But it is even more damaging to act as if sexual assault and rape are the price women pay for independence and sexual freedom.
No young woman should accept that sexual assault is just another part of college that she must avoid like the “freshman 15″ or early morning classes.