A significant percentage of college students tell researchers they have been assaulted on college campuses, but few of them actually report the crimes to officials.
Thirty-eight percent reported sexual victimizations, which met the legal definition of an attempted rape, yet only 1 out of 25 reported their assault to the police, according to the rape statistics provided by Northwest’s website.
Despite the self-defense classes, counseling sessions, and informative speakers on college campuses that implore students to take measures to protect themselves and report sexual assault, more than 80 percent of campus rapes still go unreported, according the U.S. Department of Justice.
Students on college campuses are frequently encouraged to come forward to police for any type of sexual assault that has occurred, but many still keep it a secret.
At Northwest, students are provided with the University Police number and a counselor number the first day that they step foot on campus.
They’re told to lock their doors, not to let strangers in or leave a key outside, and to not show any signs that they’re alone. And bucking a national trend, on Northwest’s campus, the number of students reporting assault have increased.
“We’ve received about seven reports [of sexual assault] this academic year. Typically there are about four,” says Chief of University Police Clarence Green. “I would say that increase is due to all of the emphasis put on sexual assault by Title IX training.”
According to Northwest’s website, “Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in the University’s educational programs and activities. It’s implementing regulations also prohibit retaliation for asserting claims of sex discrimination.”
When a report comes in, Green said a set of procedures are followed.
We make sure that they’re surviving an incident and their well-being is in check. The sexual assault advocate is contacted right away,” Green says.
According to Green, most sexual assaults tend to happen to women at night. There is the stereotype that women are not strong enough, so it makes them an easy target for sexual assault. University Police advises that students always walk in pairs at night.
According to Title IX Coordinator Rebecca Lawrence in a recent interview with The Missourian, “Consent can be verbal as well as nonverbal.”
Sophomore Allison Pinet offered up her insight.
“I don’t think that consent is confusing at all,” Pinet says. “I think if someone in the situation says ‘no’ at any point in time, that the sex is not consensual because that would mean the other person would have had to convince the person to want to do it. When it comes to alcohol and sexual consent, I believe that even if both people agree when they are under the influence of alcohol, that it is not consensual because neither are in the right state of mind.”
A sexual assault instance at Columbia University involved a student being drugged even when alcohol wasn’t involved, showing that it can happen at any point without any form of consent.
The student was at a bar where she ordered a meal and drank soda. The next thing she knew, she was being awakened by someone in the men’s bathroom where she had been bruised and raped.
According to the Huffington Post, “a copy of her complaint alleges no one at the school told her how to report the student.”
Northwest, however, strives to ensure every student knows how to report sexual assault.
We already do a lot of training on alcohol abuse and substance abuse, but I hate to link that with sexual assault cases by saying that if you drink, you put yourself in danger, but it’s still someone, most of the time a male, committing a heinous act,” Green says.
Part of that training is the mandatory Title IX online training students must do at the beginning of each school year.
“Title IX is a federal policy. Only about four schools in the country don’t follow those regulations,” says Lawrence. “Originally, it was crafted for equal pay and eventually to sexual violence issues and assault. It forced universities to address the fact.”
Northwest is constantly reviewing its Title IX training, Lawrence says.
“We’re always re-looking at the policy and what needs to be changed,” she said.
A reason that universities across the country must follow this federal regulation could be that the United States has the world’s highest rape rate of the countries that publish such statistics—four times higher than Germany, 13 times higher than England, and 20 times higher than Japan, according to the rape statistics provided by the Northwest website.
Because sexual assault is a serious and difficult topic, it may be challenging for victims to come forward, Green says.
“A lot of times, they won’t go forward with criminal charges,” he says. “I really feel for those that come forward and I can understand the fear because in most cases you know the assailant. They have common friends together, so it’s very difficult. They’re confused, hurt, or feeling pain so I feel for them, but why wouldn’t you go forward?”