Sexual assault crimes against female students is alarmingly common. And taking steps to stop these occurrences and putting the criminals behind bars just isn't happening. Cosmo investigates why that is...
By Zoe Ruderman
Sexual violence on college campuses is not only incredibly widespread-roughly one in five women are the victims of completed or attempted rape while in college, according to the Department of Justice-but as a recent investigation discovered, academic institutions aren't doing enough to protect students and punish criminals. That's why Cosmo decided to take a stand and insist that schools treat sexual assault cases more seriously, by better supporting victims and taking a harder line against perpetrators. In our upcoming September issue, we'll tell you about a huge new campaign we're kicking off to fight sexual violence on campus and how you can get involved in the effort. In the meantime, read on to find out more about the terrifying issue-and the results of a revealing survey that will make you shudder.
A survey conducted by the Chicago Tribune found that of the sex crimes reported on college campuses in the past six years, only seven percent resulted in arrests and less than three percent resulted in convictions. That is well below the national average; about 25 percent of reported rapes result in arrests and about two-thirds of those arrests turn into convictions, according to the Tribune.
The newspaper looked at 171 cases that took place at a variety of Midwestern schools. Some of the schools they investigated, like Northwestern, had over 20 reports of sexual assault, but not a single arrest or conviction. Other colleges, such as Notre Dame, didn't have much better stats: they had 34 sex crimes and just four arrests and zero convictions. And Indiana University had a whopping 69 allegations of sexual violence and only one conviction.
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And according to Russlynn Ali, the assistant secretary for civil rights in the U.S. Department of Education, this isn't just happening in the midwest. She told the Tribune, "These kinds of data are illustrative of the disturbing and alarming trend we are seeing across this country."
This comes on the heels of another scary revelation that some campuses may be neglecting to correctly and completely report sex crime statistics. A few weeks ago Yale University was found to have omitted certain "forcible sex offenses in its report of annual crime statistics when the crimes occurred". The university claims that the mistake has been corrected, but they still stand to lose federal funding for student aid because of the violation.
One theory as to why universities are under-reporting occurrences of sexual violence or not following up on them is that it makes their campuses seem unsafe to prospective students and their parents. Therefore, they fudge the numbers or try to handle the crimes internally rather than share the stats and risk making the school look unsafe and in turn, experiencing a decreased number of applicants.
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Part of what makes this phenomenon so dangerous is that it could discourage college women who are victims of assault on campus from going to the police. More than 95 percent of college rapes go unreported according to the Department of Justice. Kim Lonsway, the director of the non-profit group End Violence Against Women, told the Tribune: "Part of me wonders why someone would even bother making a report. What's the point in going to police if they don't do anything about it? It almost makes me feel worse."
The Department of Education is currently investigating the trend and we'll keep you updated on any news. And be sure to pick up the September issue later this summer to learn more about Cosmo's campaign to end campus violence.
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