CT colleges must do more to stop campus sexual assault

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The statistics of sexual assault on Connecticut’s college campuses are alarming. Almost every day, the news reports distressing issues of campus sexual assault. The numbers, which loudly speak for themselves, must urge the authorities do something. Strong policies should be developed and implemented in order to reduce, or better, eradicate sexual assault on Connecticut campuses.

The University of Connecticut reports horrendous numbers: in 2015, as many as 43 people informed about being assaulted during the previous academic year. The reaction of the authorities is simply shocking. They say that it is not that more assaults are happening, but that more people “feel comfortable” talking about it. That means that the number of assaults is actually even greater than the reported amount!

A case which is absolutely horrendous took place at the University of Connecticut in 2015. A star athlete at Stanford University, Brock Turner, assaulted an unconscious woman in the campus territory. What was even more outrageous was the judge’s verdict. The rapist was sentenced to as little as six months of imprisonment! The judge explained his decision by the fact that a more serious verdict would make “a severe impact” on Turner. Moreover, the rapist’s father even tried to appeal the sentence, saying that his son’s life and career might be damaged. It seems that both the judge and the father forgot whose life was impacted by Turner in a horrible way.

In 2012, the American Association of University Professors adopted policies and procedures in order to provide the favorable teaching and learning conditions. In their statement, they admitted that sexual assault issue in the campus is one of the most serious problems. Also, they emphasized the criticality of the aftermath of sexual assaults.

Apart from the impact on the victims, AAUP also admits that the sexual assault issues may lead to negative outcomes for the university or college itself. Still, the authors of the statement acknowledge that in spite of the improvement in the comprehension of sexual assault, it is often treated as the victim’s mistake or it is wrongly taken for an assault. Thus, more serious steps needed to be undertaken, and fortunately they did not have to wait for long.

The Connecticut administration started to take serious steps towards changing the issue a couple of years ago. However, they did not alter the situation much. For instance, in 2014, the lawmakers suggested legislation focusing on sexual assault in the campuses. But the law had both advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, it assisted in the students’ possibilities for pertinent answer to sexual assault. On the other hand, the rights of the accused students were going to be weakened.

The first step on the way of trying to change the situation was introduction of the Act concerning affirmative consent by Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee on Feb. 23. It was the outcome of almost daily news reports being overwhelmed with distressing issues of sexual assault in the campuses.

On June, 21, 2014, the bill was signed by the governor after nearly unanimous support in the legislature. The law demands Connecticut universities and colleges adopt the code of “affirmative consent” while working out their sexual assault policies. It is a positive move towards eradicating the abhorrent statistics about sexual assaults on Connecticut campuses.

The Connecticut college and university authorities need to take all the necessary measures in order to ensure the peaceful environment and favorable conditions for all Connecticut students.

Careful attention to policy will demonstrate the educational establishments’ determination to reduce the rates of campus sexual assault on a continuing and sustained basis. Careful attention to procedures that implement policy is of equal importance since thoroughly designed procedures reinforce the campus values of dignity and safety, guarantee the educational establishments’ pertinent reaction to cases of assault, and increase the awareness of the incidents and their consequences. This awareness, in its turn, makes it possible for colleges and universities to assess the efficiency of their programs and methods over time.

Angela Yan Chen is a student at the University of Hartford.

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