"I believe that education is the civil rights issue of our generation." – U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan, October 9, 2009

The Crime in Handling Incidents of Sexual Misconduct

It is disappointing to know that there are students out there who attend school everyday in fear of being bullied, teased, taunted, or sexually harassed. Children are required to go school, and it is a shame that we have yet to make sure every student feels safe and capable of performing their best. We must take responsibility and end this now.

Just 15 months ago, The Office of Civil Rights began an investigation of Yale University’s handling of incidents of sexual misconduct after students and alumni filed a complaint. The investigation discovered that Yale kept some reports of sexual misconduct covered up and failed to effectively inform students of resources to turn to for help in cases of sexual harassment or assault.

After reading about this in the article Department of Education ends Title IX investigation, I felt like Yale’s handling of sexual misconduct was unethical. It may be superstitious thinking on my part, but it sounds like Yale may have responded the way that it did in order to maintain a positive school image and reputation. A university’s image is vital to its enrollment rates.  No one wants to attend a college with a reputation for being unsafe, so silencing incidents of sexual misconduct would have been to Yale’s advantage. If Yale was responding in this way, I fear that that other universities may be doing the same.

I think that it is a crime to silence incidents of sexual misconduct and silence organizations working to combat sexual harassment and assault. Rather than radiating a poor image, I think speaking openly about these issues and actively working to prevent them is a demonstration of responsibility. If anything, I think a school possessing abundant resources and groups fighting this problem are a reflection of the caring and compassion the university has for its students—that is certainly the type of college I would want to attend!



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3 thoughts on “The Crime in Handling Incidents of Sexual Misconduct

  1. jotter92 on said:

    Schools definitely shy away from cases of sexual assault; like you said, maintaining a good reputation is important. Some schools also don’t have the resources or know-how to properly investigate an allegation of assault (one school requires that the victim and the alleged rapist meet at the same time with the dean. What victim would want to endure that?) And then, in terms of the students themselves, who value party culture …many of these cases are party rapes. It’s an uncomfortable war to wage against a system that students are “supposed” to trust and partake in. But you’re right, these things need to be handled better.

    • alison2012internship on said:

      I like that you mention this idea of trust. I think it’s important that students know that their college is supportive and is looking out for their best interest. Not only would this assist in a sense of safety, but it may also get students to listen to messages colleges voice out on these issues. I also think that educating students on these incidents and relating them to college life is one effective way of demonstrating support. For example, I recently attended a required meeting on sexual harassment where the speaker emphasized that no one expects to be a victim of sexual harassment and rape, and most perpetrators don’t plan on committing these crimes. Now if every student in America were able to take away a simple message like this, imagine how many incidents of date rape we would prevent.

      • jotter92 on said:

        Agreed, I could go on about this topic all day…..Not sure if you’re a student, but I know one fraternity at my school actually requested a ‘consent workshop’ from the women’s reproductive rights club on campus. I thought that was great initiative on the fraternity’s part, and the concept itself is an overall great idea.These are the classes and workshops that students should have to take, especially among the freshmen classes. Lots of people don’t even know what consent means.
        Thanks for sparking this discussion =]

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