College: A Safe Place to Learn and Grow, Right?

When my parents packed me up for college, I’m sure it never crossed their minds to also arm me with information about sexual assault. My mom’s advice was always to “be careful” around men with ill intent. Not very helpful or useful advice!

Four years ago when I packed up my son for college, we did have several conversations around consent, responsibility, respect and sexuality.  Times had changed.  But still, in reflecting back, we didn’t have a conversation around the role of the university as it relates to sexual assault and sexual harassment.  I didn’t arm him with resources for himself or peers.

This year college students and parents have a new resource to add to their back to school packing. Know Your IX is a wonderful resource to inform students about their rights on campus, how to address sexual victimization, how to support survivors and how to impact change.  Times have again changed as students demand appropriate action and support across college campuses nationwide.

Survivor’s stories and their struggles with being treated appropriately and respectfully by the respective universities have been well covered over the past year.  Dozens of colleges have been called out on their behavior of not supporting survivors and not holding rapist accountable.  According to a Centers for Disease Control study 19% of undergraduate women had experienced an attempted or completed sexual assault since entering college.  And 95% of these assaults are not reported to authorities and sadly, 45% of these survivors tell no one.  It is important to Know Your Rights on Campus.

I have high hopes that the media coverage plus the Know your IX campaign will be successful in holding universities accountable.  I hope it also brings awareness to the need to provide students and their friends, roommates and peers the information they need to help support survivors. We need to move the needle on these statistics and give young women on college campuses a safe place to learn and grow.

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