Despite being amongst the most appalling offenses one can commit, sexual assault is not always taken as seriously as it should be. For example, in recent years, authority figures in the military have been under fire for their failure to deal with reports of sexual assault, often letting the crimes go unpunished. Fortunately, more measures are being put in place to help prevent injustices, but the uncomfortable truth remains that there are some people that still don’t treat cases of sexual assault as seriously as they should.
While the military’s failure to deal with sexual assault has been arguably more publicized, there have been multiple universities with similar controversies as well.
Recently, a graduate from the University of Connecticut published an account on the Huffington Post about her experiences with reporting an assault. After reporting an assault she witnessed, Alyssa Palazzo was disturbed to find that almost no consequences were given to the perpetrator, who was an athlete on the school football team. The school even refused to honor her request to keep her identity anonymous, going as far as to inform the athlete that it was her who made the report.
“If you feel unsafe then you shouldn’t say anything at all,” an administrator told her when she inquired about her safety.
Unfortunately, Palazzo’s story reflects a persisting attitude that sexual assault is not a serious issue. Far too many people still believe that women who are sexually assaulted are often “asking for it” or are simply regretting a past choice. This disturbing mindset is one that more universities need to challenge.
A simple Google search revealed multiple recent cases of women bringing charges to universities for not treating sexual assault complaints properly. Both Vanderbilt and Amherst colleges are currently accused of failing to adequately respond to sexual assault reports. These types of incidents are especially concerning when considering how often college students are sexually assaulted.
According to a statistic researched by the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault, 1 in 4 college women will be sexually assaulted at some point during their tenure at a university. As unacceptable as this statistic is, no change can be expected when universities ignore the incidents that are reported.
As Illinois State offers support systems for these types of cases with services including Sexual Assault Prevention and Survivor Services, we hope that this university won’t make the same mistakes as others have. But with incidents of universities not treating such cases seriously, it indicates that several schools are in need of a change.