This week, 7 current and former female students are filing a complaint against UConn for failure to respond to rape charges. Their allegations range from a VP reinstating an expelled perpetrator without informing the victim, a public safety officer blaming the victim, and a campus culture that allows a dimly lit campus path, coined "the rape trail" to exist. One in four college women report surviving rape (15 percent) or attempted rape (12 percent) since their fourteenth birthday. In a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease control of 5,000 college students at over 100 colleges, 20% of women answered "yes" to the question "In your lifetime have you been forced to submit to sexual intercourse against your will?" Thus, one in five college women has been raped at some point in her lifetime. In a typical academic year, 3% of college women report surviving rape or attempted rape. This does not include the summer, when many more rapes occur. (oneinfourusa.org)
One small liberal arts college in southeastern Kentucky is fed up and is doing something about it. This spring, Berea College Women Studies Professor, Peggy Rivage-Seul is opening up her classroom doors to partner with the regional rape crisis center to co-teach a seminar focusing on the practical applications of social justice and feminism. Professor Rivage-Seul, will be alternating her theory classes on the social construct of sexual violence with real life therapists, advocates, and educators of the Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center who will train the students on how to actually respond and offer assistance to someone who has been sexually assaulted. The goal is for the enrolled students to gain an in-depth knowledge of the complex culture that perpetuates sexual violence, and then learn the practical tools to serve as continued advocates for survivors of sexual violence while they are on campus and beyond. The semester-long class will also incorporate guest lectures from a campus-based SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) that consists of Student Life staff, Campus Police, the Title IX Coordinator, and the Counseling Center. Students will also visit the ER staff at the local hospital and meet with the SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) as well as city law enforcement and human trafficking experts. Upon completion of the class, students will serve as campus-based telephone crisis line counselors and hospital advocates.
Berea College is already a designated Green Dot (violence prevention) trained campus and two Berea College staff and faculty serve on the Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center's board. The College also provides private counseling space for the center to meet with victims who wish to remain anonymous and who don't want to see a college counselor.
Now THAT'S a college serious about changing up those appalling statistics. Why didn't I go there? Wait a minute....I did.
(photo credit: www.berea.edu)