Sexual Assault on College Campuses

Erin Spicer, Staff Writer |

Sexual assault is defined by womenshealth.org as “any kind of unwanted sexual activity, from touching to rape.” This may seem like an obvious fact to some people; however, statistics prove that most people do not know the definition of sexual assault. Sexual assault is particularly rampant on college campuses. Sexual assault affects both men and women, but due to the fact that it has been deemed weak or otherwise “feminine” by popular culture to be a victim of sexual assault, only one in 16 men report it. For women specifically, there is a one in five chance that they will experience sexual assault during their college career. Women are at the highest risk for sexual assault during their first two semesters on campus. 

Sexual assault is more common on college campuses perhaps because many students who arrive at college come to experience new things. This includes activities that can involve drugs and alcohol. Individuals who are experimenting with drugs or alcohol for the first time are putting themselves in a vulnerable position. One study reports that 15 percent of women experienced incapacitated rape during their first year of college. Victims have reported being peer-pressured by their friends and fellow students into keeping silent. Victims of sexual assault also experience embarrassment and guilt over the incident. 

To create a safer environment on college campuses, many are calling for an end to the stigma attached to sexual assault surviviors, for both men and women, and an end to blaming the victim because there is absolutely no circumstance where someone aims to put themselves in a situation to be sexually assaulted. 

Experimenting with drugs and alcohol is often a part of the college experience for many students, but doing so does not mean these students want to be sexually assaulted. Unfortunately, living on or near a college campus means that individuals must be more vigilant. Try to get to know people better before hanging out alone with them and check their social media. If you are meeting someone for the first time, meet them in a public place. If you plan on drinking or experimenting with drugs, make sure your friends are with you and that you are in a safe environment. If you begin to feel too intoxicated in any way, find or call someone you know and trust to come help you. If you are walking back home, whether you are intoxicated or not, make sure someone is walking with you whether it be a friend or campus security.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, know this: it is not your fault and there are resources to help. If you are in immediate danger or have experienced sexual assault, you can contact either the Oneonta Police Department at (607)-432-1111 or campus police at (607)-436-3550. SUNY Oneonta is legally obligated to help you continue your education in the wake of a sexual assault. This includes helping you change class schedules, dorms, or obtaining a no-contact order. Oneonta is also obligated to provide counseling and tutoring if needed. 

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