Every fall, thousands of parents drop their children off at your colleges with enormous hope and expectation. But deep in the pit of every parent’s stomach is a nagging fear — will my child be alright?
That’s a tough thing to have to fear, but they’ve seen the statistics and they’ve read the headlines:
A first-year student goes to a party, drinks some beer, passes out, and wakes up in a strange dorm room to find a classmate she barely knows sexually assaulting her.
Three men after a football game sexually assault a student, and videos of it are posted on social media.
A student at a military service academy is the victim of sexually humiliating hazing rituals at the hands of his peers.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students are harassed and threatened with sexual violence by anonymous posters on social media platforms, like Yik Yak.
As leaders of our nation’s colleges and universities, you have a legal and a moral obligation to combat sexual violence on your campuses — and that starts with changing the culture on your campuses.
I know it’s not easy. From the first hearing to the final vote and a president’s signature, it took me many years to get the Violence Against Women enacted into law in 1994. Back when domestic violence was considered a family affair. Back when critics of battered women shelters called them “indoctrination centers.” Back when victims of sexual assault were revictimized by a legal system and a society that asked the wrong questions about what the victim did or what she was wearing, instead of asking why the perpetrator felt he could do what he did.
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