Sexual violence is a problem

To the editor:

This letter is in response to two articles printed on May 10th and May 12th entitled “Victims of campus rape should be calling 911,” and, “Who created campus rape culture?” These articles seemed to say universities should not have responsibilities under Title IX and federal and state anti-discrimination laws, or that sexual violence on our campuses nationwide is not a serious problem.

We know sexual violence is a serious nationwide problem. Here is why. The 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, as reported by victims, found that 1 in 5 women had been raped during their lifetime. FBI estimates from 2012 ranked Michigan as having the 3rd highest number of reported rapes in the U.S.

Sexual violence is a notoriously under-reported offense. This May, a Pentagon study found that reports of sexual assault in the military increased by 50%, after significant efforts to remove reporting obstacles.

In essence, we do not know the extent of sexual violence on our nation’s campuses. This is why in April the President’s Task Force for the Protection of Students Against Sexual Assault on Campus strongly recommended that by 2016, schools conduct anonymous climate surveys that will measure student awareness and attitudes toward sexual violence on campus. This information will be used to strengthen existing prevention and bystander intervention efforts.

It created a website, www.NotAlone.gov, to assist schools and students to prevent sexual assault, and or for victims to file a complaint about how their assault is being handled on campus.

While sexual violence is a crime, and 911 is an appropriate resource, victims of sexual violence aren’t always comfortable and or safe reporting assaults to law enforcement. Victims are often blamed for the assault and perpetrators are often excused for their actions.

This is why universities have a mix of mandatory and non mandatory reporting options for victims.

Instead of asking “who created rape culture?” Shouldn’t we be asking how we can eliminate sexual violence? As a caring community, we have a collective responsibility to keep each other safe and create safe educational opportunities for victims of sexual assault to report and heal.

“Perhaps most important, we need to keep saying to anyone out there who has ever been assaulted: you are not alone. We have your back…” President Barack Obama, January 22, 2014

Kevin Weir, Dial Help

Mary Niemela,

Barbara Kettle

Gundlach Shelter