Awareness of what constitutes sexual assault and the resources necessary for victims is on the rise in colleges across the country. Yet, findings from a study conducted by the Association of American Universities provided results that reveal continuing problems.
The survey reveals that 25.9 percent of undergraduate females and 6.8 percent of their male counterparts at 33 universities have been victims of sexual assault since starting school.
Shockingly, these alleged acts are being committed at some of the most high-profile and prestigious schools, including Harvard, Yale, Brown, and Georgetown, educational institutions that participated in the study.
The University of Virginia was also part of the survey. Five years ago, Rolling Stone magazine published an article alleging indifference by the school’s administration following an alleged gang rape of a female student. The story was later retracted after serious discrepancies in the victim’s story arose.
Fast forward to today. U-Va.’s stats were comparable to the study’s average. However, the level of student trust in sexual assault allegations investigated rose from 59 percent four years ago to 72 percent today.
Growing knowledge means little if victims refuse to report the criminal act, another common thread of the study. While some are too embarrassed by the assault, far too many downplay the significance or believe that they can deal with the aftermath on their own.
Detractors claim that college sexual violence is not as serious as the study reveals. What both sides can agree on is increasing awareness. Sadly, that still will not stem the continuation of false sexual assault allegations that undermine the severity of the crimes and discourage future victims.
It is a lesson that the University of Virginia learned, and other colleges should address to ensure protection for both the victims and the accused.