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Dean of Students

Dating apps increase sexual harassment likelihood

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It’s no secret more and more relationships are started online, and with nearly half of dating app users being college students, it’s almost as if it is slowly becoming a norm to meet people on one’s phone rather than in person.

Whether this will prove to be more than a fad has yet to be seen, but with so much personal information on the Internet through websites like Facebook already, it’s really not surprising that online relationships have started to take campuses everywhere by storm.

Yet it is not always “love at first sight” with such websites. An unfortunate Illinois State University student, who has not been named, found this to be true after coming into contact with Scott J. Taylor, a 22-year-old from Princeton, IL.

After communicating and exchanging nude pictures, Taylor threatened the ISU student that if she did not have sex with him, he would post the pictures on the Internet. The student refused and instead reported him to the police, leading to his arrest and a sentence of three years in prison.

As the incident shows, there is something to be said about meeting partners through a dating app or website (and sending certain pictures as well), as the possibility of being matched with people like Taylor gives such websites a definite risk.

It’s not difficult to mask one’s true self online, and while that shouldn’t deter everyone from using the Internet to meet people, it certainly should be considered.

There is a much greater lesson to be learned from what happened. As the anonymous ISU student showed, it is imperative that such people are reported immediately and that their harassment will not be tolerated.

This does not apply to just online harassment, but rather any type of sexual harassment. Too often do victims let such harassment go without immediately informing the police. The reasons for this are obviously numerous and complex, ranging from fear of disbelief to embarrassment. True, there are reasons these perceptions exist, but they absolutely should not prevent the reporting of such crimes.

“Despite this high number of assaults, colleges and universities consistently report having far fewer sexual assaults. This is because more than 95 percent of sexual assaults that occur on campus go unreported,” the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault reported.

It can be unimaginably difficult and takes a great deal of courage, but sexual harassment and assault cannot continue to be amongst the most underreported crimes in the country. Reporting to the police not only helps stop the problem, but the victim’s privacy almost always remains intact.

As the case with the ISU student shows, not only has her identity remained anonymous, but her harasser was given a stiff penalty. Such a stiff sentence is a crucial reminder that those who commit such acts will be harshly punished.

“She was brave. She stood up and said, ‘This is not going to happen to me,’” Jason Chambers, McLean County State’s Attorney, said.

As for dating websites and apps: Use them wisely. Better yet, try to meet people in person first. With numerous events and hangouts, colleges and their surrounding areas offer the easiest ways to meet people. After all, most students are only in college for four years — better to take advantage of all the opportunities that are offered while students can.

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