10 Ways to Fight against Sexual Assault on Campus
Our campuses are in crisis. The chance of a woman being sexually assaulted during college is about the same as her chance of catching the flu during an average year — except she can’t just take Nyquil and rest in bed for a few days. Sexual assault has lasting effects on students.
If this statistic troubles you, know that you can take action. Here are 10 ways you can bring this fight to your campus.
1. Share resources and groups that help survivors.
The first step in helping survivors heal is to believe them. Research shows that only 2 percent of survivors disclose their sexual assault to the police.
Once a survivor confides in you, connect her or him with national, community, or campus resources, like a counseling center, advocacy office, the police, or a public safety group. Remember your role is to help; if the survivor doesn’t want to seek outside assistance, don’t insist.
2. Know your rights.
Universities that receive federal funding must be in compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. While Title IX is traditionally known for equity in athletics, it covers all realms of gender equity and prohibits sex-based discrimination in education, including discrimination against pregnant and parenting students and women in STEM programs, sexual harassment, and sexual violence. Get the facts on your rights under Title IX.
Students and members can make a point to meet with their campus Title IX coordinators, who are in charge of overseeing all complaints of sex discrimination and making sure schools are compliant with Title IX. Take it one step further by delivering U.S. Department of Education resources in order for Title IX coordinators to know the full scope of their jobs. These resources are powerful tools that provide support, guidance, and training for Title IX coordinators and help them do their work better.
3. Check if your school complies with the Campus SaVE Act.
After years of hard work by advocates, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) is law. The updated VAWA campus safety provisions, sometimes called the Campus SaVE Act, went into effect July 1, 2015, requiring colleges and universities to take new steps to end sexual violence. The regulations for the VAWA amendments to the Clery Act are final and enforceable. Schools must follow them or risk investigation and action from the U.S. Department of Education.
Schools are now completely on the hook to follow these new provisions. Have you ever checked your school’s annual security report, which explains its compliance? Consider searching “annual security report” on your school’s official website. The report should show up and have been updated on or by October 1. It should include new statistics about dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking and mention the steps the school is taking to comply with the new law. Send us an e-mail at email@example.com to let us know what you find out. Checking up on institutions is a great way to implement this strong new law that you helped make a reality!
4. Write an op-ed.
Op-ed pieces can inform and influence readers and can bring considerable attention to this cause. Research campus sexual assault, and then write an op-ed for a school, local, or national newspaper or even a blog.
5. Use social media.
Social media tools can help spread awareness and advocate for social change. Use hashtags to start or join in conversations on Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram. (For example, use #SAAM, which stands for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, during the month of April.) On Facebook, post articles and share events to get your friends in the know.
6. Start a conversation on victim-blaming and how to stop it.
Host an on-campus brown-bag to talk about how victim-blaming occurs and how can we prevent it.
Bystanders can help prevent or stop sexual violence on campus and in other communities. Connect with programs that teach bystanders how to intervene in situations that involve sexual violence.
8. Get involved in national campaigns.
Here are a few of our favorite initiatives that you can take part in.
Become a Two-Minute Activist
Get regular updates about how you can address the barriers facing women in education.
- It’s on Us — Pledge your commitment to help keep women and men safe from sexual assault. AAUW is proud to be a part of this growing movement, which reframes sexual assault in a way that inspires everyone to see it as their responsibility to do something, big or small, to prevent it.
- NotAlone.gov – White House project that includes information for students, schools, and anyone interested in finding resources on how to respond to and prevent sexual assault.
- The Clothesline Project — Have people affected by sexual violence decorate a shirt and hang it on a public clothesline as testimony to the problem of sexual violence.
- V-Day — Hold a performance or a film screening to raise awareness about violence against women and girls.
- White Ribbon Campaign — Wear a white ribbon, and make a personal pledge to “never commit, condone, or remain silent about violence against women and girls.”
- Take Back the Night — Take part in this after-dark march that is popular on college campuses, and make a statement that women have the right to be in public at night without the risk of sexual violence.
- International Day against Victim-Blaming — Use the hashtag #EndVictimBlaming on April 3, the online day of action to speak out against victim-blaming and to support survivors, and get involved through social media.
- Denim Day in LA and USA — Wear jeans on April 23 to protest and raise awareness of the misconceptions that surround sexual assault. Order the Denim Day Tool Kit, and raise awareness in your workplace, neighborhood, or community.
10. Apply for funding.
On a rolling basis, AAUW branch members can apply for LAF Campus Outreach Grants and receive up to $750 to hold an event about sexual assault on a local campus. Some current and past AAUW fellowship and grant recipients have focused their work on sexual violence issues, and you can, too.
What did we miss? Let us know what you are doing on your campus in the comments, or share your stories and pictures with firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can highlight the great work you are doing.
It’s well past the time for schools to take action when it comes to ending violence on campus, and we know that the Obama administration can do more to help make this happen.
Use these resources to raise awareness about campus sexual assault so that everyone can help make campuses safe for all students.
Across the country, college students are taking a stand against sexual assault. Here are some of their stories.