By Emma K.
“The fact that 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted while in college should frighten all of us.”
California Congresswoman Jackie Speier said this recently in a letter to her constituents when she and Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Meehan submitted new proposed legislation on the subject of improving campus safety standards.
Question to parents: Would you send your daughter to college if the statistic was that 1 in 5 women would be mauled by a bear? And that 80% of the mauling’s would happen to your daughter while she was a freshmen or sophomore? My guess is that the answer would be a sudden decline in enrollments across America accompanied by a spike in online college education.
Earlier this year President Obama created a task force of senior administration officials to make recommendations on how to involve the federal government in the process of raising awareness of the issue and getting colleges to step up to the plate and take responsibility for these crimes on their campuses.
Tough laws and penalties already exist for colleges that don’t conform to the reporting guidelines and many have already been hit with fines: Yale ($165,000), Eastern Michigan ($350,000), University of Montana (undisclosed), to name a few. The even tougher laws and penalties under discussion may or may not solve the problem, but I believe the root of the problem can be solved by Engaging with college students, Educating those students about the problem and Empowering those students to think and act differently.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) employed similar tactics when it was formed and I think successfully drove drunk driving fatalities down over a ten year period. It wasn’t easy to retrain people’s thinking on why it was a really bad idea to drive drunk, but it worked there and I believe it can work here. I heard a TED talk recently and the speaker was talking about how the best new technology was “disruptive”. Well, we need to disrupt the norm in order to effect change and keep college girls safe. We need to be confident and patient about our ability to effect true social change. Nelson Mandela waited 27 years in jail, to effect true social change in his country. Now that’s commitment and patience! He said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. We will not have to wait that long. Through education and action, we can get college students to take a different view on things.