The Secret Struggle with Sexual Assault on College Campuses

(Trigger Warning: This article contains references to rape and sexual assault.)

Alex Pates, Staff Writer

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In September, a Towson student was charged with first degree rape. While this is a rarity, college cases of rape are not. Based on federal crime data shown by the Talia Richman of The Baltimore Sun, in 2017, seven rapes were reported on-campus at Towson and one off campus, in addition to six cases of rape reported on-campus at UMBC, and 29 on-campus rapes at the University of Maryland, College Park. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, federal crime data shows that out of every 1,000 instances of rape, fewer than a quarter are reported, only 46 lead to an arrest, and five result in convictions. These numbers are even smaller for college cases specifically. Because of the lack of awareness and accountability, rape and rape culture continue to be a problem in colleges and universities until this is more widely talked about.

However, small steps have been taken in universities, including Towson, to make campuses safer by starting programs like the Sexual Violence Prevention and Resources as well as numerous hotlines to support people in crisis. According to Cody Boteler of The Baltimore Sun, Towson University will be hiring more police officers, behavioral and mental health counselors, and other support staff in response within forty-five days. 

Regardless, colleges have been criticized for their lack of sincerity and victim-blaming. “Universities need to stop trying to treat this as a PR problem, and treat it as the civil rights and public safety issue that it is,” said Lisa Maatz, vice president for government relations at the American Association of University Women.

While there has been progress, colleges and universities still have a long way to go in order to make campuses safer for women.