Dear UC’s: Start Protecting Sexual Assault Victims
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It has become a social norm to hear shocking statistics all throughout your teenage life about the sexual assault culture, “1 in 5 women (20%) will be sexually assaulted while at college.” As most students prepare to go to college they watch a documentary found on Netflix, “The Hunting Ground” a documentary exposing the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses and how colleges try to cover the crimes up. Why do they do this? Because they need to prepare themselves even further for the harsh truth many will unfortunately face once attending a university.
The University of California system is notorious for their outstanding credentials and academics, but what many don't realize is their sexual assault rates are far higher than most expect. The University of California, Berkeley had at least 85 sexual offenses reported in 2016, not to mention the hundreds that go unreported (University of California, Berkeley Crime Table). You would think that when attending some of the top universities in the United States, and even the world, would have better preventative measures and repercussions towards this, but that's quite the opposite.
Title IX is a law that affects all federally funded schools undergraduate and higher. What this entails is that any sexual harassment is a form of unlawful sex discrimination. These schools, that receive federally funded assistance, are required to “promptly and effectively respond to reports of sexual harassment.” (“Policies” on the University of California website for Sexual Violence Prevention and Response) If the law states that these schools must respond to reports effectively, why is it that they respond but drag these cases out on average for over a year?
It is reported that only about 5% of sexual assault incidents are reported. That makes sexual assault the most underreported crime. Why is that so? Well, on UC campuses, other Title IX implemented schools, and colleges in general, victims are hesitant to report because the wait time is repulsive. Sheryl Vacca, a former UC executive who was on the board of the university’s sexual harassment prevention committees, stated that these investigations take an average of more than a year to complete. Title IX policy states that the investigation will be completed within 60 business days of the report. Though this rule can be overturned if the Title IX officer overrules it, but can they overrule every report? How is the policy 60 business days if the average time of completion is over a year?
These statistics shouldn’t be true. Rape shouldn't be the culture we are signing up for, it should be for education. Students and faculty shouldn't be scared to step forward with the hundreds of thousands of survivors who are fighting this battle. Why am I asking you to sign my petition? It’s not just because I am a senior in high school and I face these horrifying facts sooner rather than later, but because we all know someone who has been sexually assaulted. Whether we realize it or not, we all know a survivor. You, the taxpayers and those who pay tuition, are funding these schools, so you have the right to know what they're doing to protect your family and friends who are enrolled in these institutions.
By signing my petition you agree, not only, that the Title IX law should follow their timetable of 60 business days and enforce preventative measures, but also educate students on sexual assault. Let’s break the social norm surrounding sexual assault statistics and take a stance against current unenforced policies.
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