Working To End Sexual Assault And Gender Violence On Campus

Mar 21, 2019

Students protesting on campus.
Credit Fibonacci Blue / Creative Commons https://bit.ly/1WNVq77

Statistics show that one in three women and one in six men in the United States experience some form of sexual violence over their lifetime. The risk of sexual assault is much higher for people who are college-aged. A recent student experience survey from Duke University shows that 48 percent of undergraduate women say they have been sexually assaulted since enrolling.

Host Frank Stasio talks to Monika Johnson-Hostler and Juliette Grimmett about the statistics and the challenges of pursuing sexual assault charges on a college campus. Johnson-Hostler is the executive director for the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and Grimmett is the founder of Chrysalis Network, an organization which provides training programs to colleges, businesses and organizations.

Stasio also homes in on the environment at Duke University with an administrator and a student. Jayne Grandes, the director for Title IX compliance at Duke University and Duke University Health System and student Ema Klugman, a junior and member of Duke Students Against Gender Violence, share their reflections on the student experience survey and how the campus is working to better support students.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS

Grimmett on the complications of reporting sexual assault on college campuses:

Knowing that if they say the word “sexual assault” or “rape,” everything that comes with that can be just a deterrent in itself. How's their family going to respond, their friends, their social system? How's it going to impact their coursework? Those kinds of things … And then also social consequences for students. Maybe they're first year students, and they've just formed their social network. And what does that mean if they come forward and share something?

Grimmett on the importance of supporting survivors on college campuses:

The American Association of University Women did a study of Clery reports or the crime statistics of over 11,000 colleges in 2014, and found that 91% of those 11,000 colleges had reported zero sexual assaults … Let's be really clear, it's not that 91% of those schools do not have a sexual violence problem. It's that these campuses aren't creating spaces where survivors are feeling safe coming forward for a multitude of reasons, lack of resources certainly being one of them.

Sexual assault is a reflection of culture. And students need to keep each other accountable. - Ema Klugman

Grandes on how Duke is handling sexual assault on campus:

I've been very impressed since I've been at Duke — which is a short period of time — with the leadership interest in this problem of understanding that we are not alone in this … But that we do have a responsibility to do everything we can to address the problem. And they are looking at various ways of doing that — certainly interested in everything that students have to contribute to this. And we have a very active and interested student body, which is really helpful.

Klugman on how students can keep each other accountable:

I think it's a broader cultural change. It’s not really just about sexual assault. I think it's about equality. And so things like locker room talk need to be unacceptable. Sexist jokes need to be unacceptable — talking with your bros about what happened last night, that kind of thing. It may actually be against the grain for you to say: Hey, man, that wasn't cool. Don't say that. But, if people start doing that in their own small ways, I think that can actually have a really big impact … I think language and culture, all of that has everything to do with this. And students seem to know that. Students need to think: When I see 48%, that part of that is my actions and maybe my inaction too if I see somebody and I don't intervene.

Johnson-Hostler on how to end sexual violence on campus:

I think we actually have to tell people what culture and climate can look like without sexual violence. We've talked about it. We keep saying it. But what I've heard, especially from chancellors and presidents … They didn't actually know what that looks like … If you don't actually give them the what to do or what the culture looks like, I don't think people can grasp it. So I think for me, that is the sea change that I think we have the opportunity to take now that people are actually listening.