Taft Today

Campus Safety Concerns Cloud College Decision-Making Process

Photo Courtesy of MSU Today

Photo Courtesy of MSU Today

Olivia Santelli, Editor

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     Choosing the right path post high school can be difficult for any senior. You have to factor the quality of education you will receive, scholarships and financial aid, on top of a hundred other, stressful, things.  But when does your safety come into play?

     According to the United States Department of Justice, one out of every four female undergraduate students will be victim to some sort of sexual assault before graduation. More than one-third of the incidents will go unreported and many female victims will likely have a harder time paying attention in class and sleeping at night after such incident, all of which are crucial factors in advancing one’s education.

     In the wake of current events involving Michigan State University, where at least sixteen student athletes have been accused of sexual assault, or violence against women in the last decade, I begin to wonder if I were in this situation, would my safety be a priority to the school?    

      I personally plan to pursue sports journalism at MSU. I weighed and looked over all of the factors, that I thought were important, to make my initial decision. However, after hearing of  the recent events, I took a step back and reconsidered my options.

     As a sports journalist my next four years will be spent around these players, coaches, and athletic departments that covered up the sexual harassment accusations. I was no longer sure of my decision to attend Michigan State University. I thought about the facts, if I were a victim, how would my ability to advance my education be affected?

      In our day and age it is unfortunate for a student to have to be concerned about their safety on a campus. No means no, consent should be a life lesson taught to everyone at an age much younger than eighteen. One should not be hindered due to the fear of harassment in daily life.

     “It’s really disheartening to me that half of our population has to worry about potentially being attacked at any time by anybody.” said Taft’s Director of Culture, Kat Hindmand.

     Nearly all college and university campuses have policies on sexual harassment, and many administrators continue to develop institute-specific policies. However, Title IX of the Education  Amendments of 1972 requires all schools in the United States “to protect the complainant and ensure his or her safety as necessary, including taking interim steps before the final outcome of any investigation.”

     In order for the campus to take action, the victim must come forward about their incident, which tends to be the hardest part of the process. Fear of embarrassment, feelings of insignificance or somehow being subject to victim-bashing,  can discourage victims from reporting assaults in the first place.

     In many cases universities choose to hide or find ways around accusations brought forth in order to maintain their reputation, especially when it comes to their  athletic programs, which has been exemplified in many cases. The avoiding of such accusations is evident in the most recent Michigan State scandal.  

      “As a Big Ten university with high-profile football, basketball and hockey programs, they want to protect the integrity of the programs — don’t want scandal, don’t want sexual assault allegations, or domestic violence allegations,” former Michigan State sexual assault counselor Lauren Allswede via interview with ESPN.

       Universities tend to avoid allegations by assigning the investigation, of an athlete’s bad behavior, to the athletics department–a blatant conflict of interest.

      When choosing the best college or university for yourself be sure to look into the campus-specific policies on student safety and coping methods. Although we are living in a time of female empowerment,  sexual harassment is still prevalent in campus life. Be sure to stay aware of the issues on your potential campus, and never be afraid to come out about a situation if it happens to you.

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Campus Safety Concerns Cloud College Decision-Making Process