Obama: Campus Sexual Assault “An Affront to Our Basic Humanity”
Career Path : Education News
Obama spoke at the kick-off of “It’s On Us”, a new campaign to combat sexual assault on university and college campuses across the country. The campaign, featuring support by celebrities like Jon Hamm, Connie Britton, Kerry Washington and others, outlines that it is everybody’s responsibility to stop sexual assault from happening. Obama stressed that 1 in 5 women has been sexually assault during her college years, whereas only 12% of women report the attack to police.
This is the “quiet tolerance” Obama also speaks of, whether it is allowing a woman who you may suspect to be beyond judgement to go home with somebody, or turning a blind eye to assault which you have endured–the president is calling for action on all parts. The president also condemns education institutions for turning a blind eye to assault cases, and publicly released the list of colleges under federal investigation for improper handling of sexual assault reports. Too often, he states, assault cases are dismissed and the victim must endure going to class with their assaulter, while the assaulter is free to potentially repeat the offense. The inability for many to go to school without fear is what he calls “an affront to our basic humanity”.
This announcement by the president comes at the same time as Cambridge University in the U.K. introduced a mandatory sexual assault workshop for incoming students. The National Union of Students, a higher education federation based in the U.K., recently published an article stating 1 in 3 women have been groped, touched or pinched at university. What is unfortunate is that many young people do not consider these acts of sexual assault, and allowing these events to occur only precipitates an assaulter to take the actions further. Most sexual assault cases occur with the influence of either drugs or alcohol, and a victim or accused’s incapacitated state has been much subject of debate about how to determine the boundaries of what is sexual assault. A member of the Cambridge campaign has noted that this may come with the fact that most freshmen in university have a very basic knowledge of sex, mostly from a biological standpoint.
Perhaps this is because the sexual education in high school is currently watered down to students labelling reproductive organs and learning (briefly) a form of birth control to use. There is little to no education about consent, sexual assault or even healthy relationships. When the sexual assault cases are at this number, it is no longer enough to tell students they need to practice safe sex. These numbers indicate that something is going wrong with a young person’s perspective on sex earlier on in life. Perhaps it is how the media portrays women (always sexualized), perhaps it is being exposed to poor sexual health early on, or a lack of comprehensive sex education in schools. What Obama is stating with this campaign is that it is no longer enough to acknowledge sexual assault is happening on campuses, action needs to be taken to prevent it from happening. This undertaking needs to come not only from the students but the universities, to stop covering up the crime of sexual assault and take action to commit the offenders.