A Brief Report: Sexual Assault on Campus
It’s a sad and disturbing fact that sexual harassment occurs on campus. It’s even sadder to think that many universities don’t do much in the way of aiding the victim; the accused walk free, people turn a blind eye, and often victims aren’t granted justice. It is hard enough when the victim is scared to tell anyone in the first place, let alone telling, and having nothing done about it.
Just last year, Macleans published an article discussing harassment and why so many universities don’t like to talk about it. U of T only reported two cases of sexual assault on their campus in 2013 and three in 2014. Saint Mary’s University in Halifax and UBC were both guilty of their students chanting inappropriate Frosh Week cheers promoting underage, non-consensual sex back in 2013.
The cases are endless yet only a few are being reported. A table showing the reported assaults from the years 2009 – 2013 was published by CBC in February of this year, with Ryerson University topping the list with 57 reported cases. York University followed in second with 52, and Dalhousie University was in third with 38.
The Star drew attention to the fact that “the big three” universities in Toronto, York University, Ryerson University, and the University of Toronto, have yet to update their policy on sexual harassment. Ryerson addressed the article and proposed making changes but students still feel unsafe on campus.
Some universities have taken the proper steps in talking about the issue and have provided information on who to call on campus, how to report it, and what the school is doing about sexual assault. Queen University provided a 120-page report covering the issue as a way to help students. The report was released on April 30, 2015.
“It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment” was also released in March of this year. A foreword from the premier and over 30 pages of content discuss how we can make the workplace and campuses safer through understanding that there is a problem and talking about it openly.
Though, despite the steps being made, not enough is being done to help the survivors and victims of assault. The numbers of cases reported and articles written has been staggering, with additional surveys conducted revealing that 60% of men would assault a woman if they knew they wouldn’t get caught, and 80% of rapes that occur are done by someone the victim knows, with half these attacks occurring on dates.
It’s not just a few universities that need to get involved. Every university needs to step up to talk about the issue and offer their students a safe place to go for reporting these cases and also for providing information on the topic.
The stigma surrounding important issues is still present because people feel like they can’t talk about it. Others don’t want to. But we need to discuss these things to bring light to the fact that sexual assault happens on every campus and unless every campus brings change, we’re standing still on the issues.