College women face sexual assault epidemic

Prospective college students have something to worry about: nearly one-quarter of undergraduate women will be sexually assaulted during their time on campus. Photo courtesy of

Sydney Czyzon, Editor-in -Chief

Prospective college students have something to worry about: nearly one-quarter of undergraduate women will be sexually assaulted during their time on campus.

A recent report completed by the Association of American Universities collected information from over 150,000 students from 27 well-known universities throughout the nation. They found that 23% of female students experienced some form of sexual assault.

The number was even higher for college seniors, with an astounding 26% of them experiencing some form of unwanted sexual contact during their four years of study.

The highest percentage came from University of Michigan students, with 32% of women revealing that they have experienced sexual misconduct. Trailing close behind were Yale with 32%, and Harvard with 29%.

Moreover, of the 780,000 students who were emailed the survey, only 19% participated. Due to the lack of completion, the amount of sexual assault victims could be much higher than recorded.

At Joliet West High School, many seniors have been applying to colleges and sharing their excitement for the future. However, some senior girls have expressed concern over the shocking statistics.

“As a student who will attend college soon, I should not have to worry about anything other than scholarships,” stated Christina Phimmasene. “If I go to a party, I should not have to worry if my drink has been spiked, or if I can walk to a dark alley without being ‘approached’ by a man.”

Another senior student, Denita Massey, similarly expressed, “I fear for myself when I’m walking in the dark. I always fear about walking in the dark but especially the news has made me more fearful than ever.” With the countless stories presented by the media, many girls are afraid that similar incidents could happen to them.

“My biggest fear is that someone new that’s close to me would do it,” remarked Sharleen Njoroge. Being around different people, and in some cases living in a new place, can be extremely scary for freshmen students. It can be difficult to distinguish trustworthy people from deceitful individuals.

Crystal Hernandez commented, “I’m afraid that the school would cover it up or I’ll get no help. What if somebody came and just touched you? What do you do?” This has been the case of many victims, with over 50% of women who experienced the most serious offenses never reporting it. According to CNN, this was because, “they were embarrassed, ashamed or thought it would be too emotionally difficult or that they didn’t think anything would be done about it.”

Other students believe the issue isn’t largely concerning. When asked about the topic, Dora Richardson admitted, “Of course its in the back of your mind, but I’m not majorly concerned about it.”

Ultimately, sexual assault has become much too common on college campuses in the United States. As more women become victims of horrific crimes, officials and school administrators must take the issue seriously. After all, psychologist David Lisak found that repeat offenders account for nine out of 10 college rapes. If more perpetrators are punished for their intolerable acts, then more female students can feel safe as they head off to college.

On top of this, the Washington Post found that “students found responsible for sexual assault are as likely to be ordered to have counseling or given a reprimand as they are to be kicked out. They are much more likely to be suspended and then allowed to finish their studies.” Universities must adopt stricter policies regarding sexual assault in order to protect the general student population. Otherwise, perpetrators will be encouraged to act again.

All in all, college students must be skeptical when attending social events or befriending new people. It is unfortunate that students are exposed to such dangers; hopefully colleges will utilize recent statistics in order to improve campus security.