Sexual assault on college campuses is an epidemic in this country with conservative estimates approximating that 1 in 5 college women will be raped or experience an attempted rape during their undergraduate career. College campuses have an atmosphere which condones sexual violence and universities fail to meet the needs of survivors. Currently at American University, the resources allotted to address this imperative issue are stretched too thin.
The emotional trauma associated with sexual assault can lead student victims to have difficulty concentrating, have lower grades, be absent and withdraw from classes, change majors and even drop out of school (Sexual Harassment Support, 2011). A college with 7,000 students, like American University, can have around 245 rapes per year (RAINN). In college, fewer than 5% of sexual assaults are reported to law enforcement compared to 40% of the general population (RAINN).
While the existing resources are important and vital, they are not nearly enough. American University needs to allocate more resources to the care of survivors and prevention of sexual assault on campus. Currently, there is only one person employed as the Sexual Assault Prevention Coordinator, who balances teaching classes, facilitating student groups, and counseling and advocating for survivors. We are calling for the administration of American University to allocate additional funds to employ a full-time Survivors Advocate to help meet the needs of the student body.
At American University, in 2010, there were two sex offenses reported; in 2011, there were ten; and in 2012, there were 20. Employing a full-time Survivors Advocate will increase the amount of sexual assaults reported and support survivors in their healing. The safety and welfare of our students is at stake.