Millennium Post

US universities battle scourge of campus rape

The messages from the members of the unofficial group at the campus in the US capital gave tips on targeting first-year female students — perceived to be more naive — and the best places to have sex without being seen. One email suggested inviting girls over for drinks before a party, so they “would feel more relaxed and safe.”

That “would be such a good idea to get the bitches in the right state of intoxication,” it said. The problem at American University is one that colleges across the nation are confronting — how to stem the rising tide of campus sexual assaults.

The issue again made headlines earlier this month when Rolling Stone magazine detailed graphic allegations of assault and gang rape at fraternity parties — and the administration’s troubling lack of action — at the prestigious University of Virginia.

After the article was published, the school announced it was suspending fraternity and sorority
activity — so-called “Greek life” — until January, when the new semester begins, and would hold meetings with students, faculty, alumni and others concerned to discuss steps to prevent sexual violence on campus. At American University, students are taking action. Amanda Gould, who is in her second year of studies, created a group — “No more silence” — and gathered 1,700 signatures to urge the university to expel the authors of the emails.

“Everyone considers them as ‘rape fraternities’,” said Gould. “But the university consistently said we can’t do anything, because they are not affiliated with us,” she noted, referring to Epsilon Iota’s unofficial status. Gould nevertheless organised a demonstration on campus that she called a “turning point”, explaining: “The university can’t just sweep it under the rug anymore.”

She never managed to get a meeting with the university president, but she indirectly got support at a much higher level.

As outrage over the prevalence of sexual assaults on college campuses — and what many critics blast as an inadequate response from authorities — spread, the White House launched a national campaign. “It’s on Us” — promoted by President Barack Obama — calls on each student to “be part of the solution.”

“Don’t be a bystander. Stopping sexual assault is about being the guy who stops it,” the campaign urges in videos using footage shot at parties, showing drunk women targeted by unscrupulous students.
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