In support of a rape-free campus


Editor’s Note: The author, Tammy Giovannini, is a student in the spring 2011 Women’s Studies Program Feminist Theory course at The University of Akron.

UA students at the first Take Back the Night event on campus, April 12, 2011, to help raise awareness of sexual violence and allow women to "take back the night."

Rape is a serious crime.

We live in a society where boys from a young age are encouraged to be sexual creatures. They are taught and encouraged to participate in sexual activities as a way to demonstrate their manhood.

But rape is not about sex. It’s purely about dominance. Rape is a man’s way of showing his victim and others that he’s in charge.

Do rape-free campuses exist?

Recently I took a class on violence against women. We looked at an article that featured the difference between a rape-prone and a rape-free college campus. It made me wonder if one could truly exist.

In a rape-prone campus, women are dehumanized. They are seen as sex objects, rather than women. In a rape-free campus, crimes such as rape and other forms of sexual discrimination are not tolerated, and the college community shuns those who participate in such activities.

Colleges should refuse to offer their services to those who commit rapes on campus. No one should have to worry about their safety when at college.

Where colleges fail

But one thing schools fail to do is provide victims of sex crimes with enough support. These students can go to campus police for help. But more times than not, the matter is not pursued.  Also, most colleges don’t provide victim assistance programs, such as medical care (available 24 hours a day, even if that means someone is on call) or psychological help.

Victims of such crimes are reluctant to get help because they feel as though they are being judged or revictimized by the system. When someone is raped, she is questioned by police, stripped down by a nurse and physically examined, and often samples are taken. And then the victim is sent home.

Every detail about the victim is put into a report: Was she drinking? What clothes did she have on? Did she know the person?

Don’t repeat the victimization

Campuses need to provide their students with support. Students need to feel safe when reporting a crime. They need to feel as though they are not being revictimized.

I understand that crucial evidence is taken from a victim of a rape at the hospital, but it shouldn’t feel as though she is being violated all over again.

Rape is a serious crime. It needs to be addressed, especially on college campuses.

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