Campus safety has been in the news a lot lately as we’ve seen rape victims united in their search for justice. If you have a term paper due soon then consider research paper topics that highlight the issues related to domestic violence and safety on campus.
It’s also a good idea to learn more about this social problem because as a student, you are located at the heart of the issue.
Carry that weight
The issue of campus safety is very personal for Columbia University senior Emma Sulkowicz. After being raped in her dorm bed by a fellow student on the first day of her sophomore year, Sulkowicz reported the attack to the university only to find that she was one of three other students who had filed cases against the alleged attacker.
CBSLocal.com described Sulkowicz’s experience in a September 3, 2014, article, “Columbia Student Carrying Mattress Around Until Alleged Rapist Is Expelled.”
The university eventually found the student not guilty. Sulkowicz filed an appeal, but lost.
According to the article, “I was raped in my own dorm bed, and since then, that space has become fraught for me,” […] “And I feel like I’ve carried the weight of what happened there with me everywhere since then.”
In response to the verdict Sulkowicz, a visual arts major, has turned her protest into a performance art piece that she calls “Carry That Weight.” She has promised to carry her dorm room mattress with her as long as she attends the same school as her alleged rapist. Her commitment has gained the support of several students and other interested locals who have committed to helping her carry the mattress.
The link to alcohol
For many, part of the campus culture is partying and drinking. But overindulging in alcohol carries many dangers that inexperienced minds often don’t consider.
The college drinking culture was explored by Thomas Vander Ven in his book, Getting Wasted: Why College Students Drink Too Much and Party So Hard available on Questia.
Vander Ven noted that sometimes male students will prey upon female students who have become intoxicated. They might even deliberately encourage the women to drink more than they could handle. With her senses and judgment impaired, the female is an easy victim unless a male friend can successfully “cock block” the aggressor from succeeding with this plan.
“College Alcohol Study research suggests that rape is significantly more common at heavy binge-drinking colleges and that 72 percent of women who reported being raped at school were raped while intoxicated. […] Though sexual predators often play semantic games to suggest that an assault was ‘consensual,’ severely intoxicated women simply lack the capacity to agree to sex,” Vander Ven said.
Campus safety: Protect and prevent
What can be done to make your campus safer? The editorial board of USAToday.com issued their take on the question in an August 4, 2014, post, “Preventing campus rapes: Our view.”
According to the board, “Many campus assaults are committed by serial rapists who prey on naive underclasswomen by using alcohol or drugs, as well as physical force. One study found 84% of “sexually coercive” experiences occurred during the first two years of college.”
Breaking the silence
According to psychologist and researcher David Lisak, one of the ways to prevent rapes on campus is to train men to break their silence about objections to violence against women. In his 2002 survey of 1,800 male college students, Lisak found that about 6 percent, or 120 men, admitted to being responsible for a total of 439 rapes.
Of the 120 admitted rapists, two-thirds were serial rapists who had committed rape on average, six times.
Lisak’s findings were described by Laura Starecheski in an August 18, 2014, article for NPR.org, “The Power Of The Peer Group In Preventing Campus Rape.”
These men don’t consider themselves rapists because they don’t fit the stereotype of an attacker who wears a ski mask and wields a knife.
“In fact, they’d brag about what they had done afterwards to their friends. That implied endorsement from male friends — or at the very least, a lack of vocal objection — is a powerful force, perpetuating the idea that what these guys are doing is normal rather than criminal,” Starecheski said.
Lisak believes that by the time an 18-year-old leaves for college he needs to be hearing challenges from his male friends about his behaviors toward women. High school programs such as Iowa’s Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) are working to teach young men how to spot and diffuse situations where women are being victimized.
What do you think about the level of safety on your campus? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.