[LA Times] Sexual violence common among teens. Feeling responsible isn’t.

Sexual violence common among teens. Feeling responsible isn’t.

“While those most likely to report initiating unwanted sexual contact in their early to mid-teens were boys, girls were among the perpetrators as the age of respondents increased. Latino and African American youths, and those from low-income families, were less likely to have coerced another person to engage in sex than were whites and those from higher-income families, the study found.

[…]

Coercive tactics, including arguing, pressuring, getting angry or making someone feel guilty, were most commonly reported by those who acknowledged attempted or completed rape. And the study found that 75% of the cases of sexual violence occurred in the context of a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship.”

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Rape is a Violent Crime

Read more: Rape is a Violent Crime


College Sexual Assault: How Students Can Help Prevent Rape On Campus

For example, according to statistics from the Justice Department, just under 3% of all college women become rape survivors (either completed or attempted) in a nine-month academic year. To take Harvard as an example, with an undergraduate population of around 6,500 undergrads, our number would of rape survivor women would be about 100 each year. It is important to remember that when counting survivors of other genders this number would undoubtedly increase.

To visualize that number, the number of rape survivors for each academic year should overflow Fong Auditorium on exam day. The number of rape survivors should probably be around the same size of Harvard’s varsity football team, overflow two shuttles, and easily fill the stage of Sanders Theater, Harvard’s largest classroom. Gathering these numbers for multiple years, between 650 and 825 of current Harvard undergrads have been survivors of a completed or attempted sexual assault.

Yet because of extraordinarily legitimate concerns that include not being believed by authorities, reprisal of the perpetrator, not thinking it was serious enough to report, or because the survivor knows the perpetrator, sexual assault is widely underreported. The most updated of HUPD’s reported assault is 13. This number is actually higher than the average 5% of national campus reports, but widely below the 40% reporting rate that occurs in the general population. Reporting rape is not the same as stopping rape, but it is a tool in our arsenal and a reminder that survivors are not alone. Sexual assault happens, even at Harvard, and it’s time for this to stop.

read more: College Sexual Assault: How Students Can Help Prevent Rape On Campus


A Growing Movement: Students Aim to Change Culture and Policies Surrounding Sexual Assault on Campus

3,066. That’s the number of students—85 percent of those who voted in the latest UC election—who agreed with the UC referendum asserting that Harvard should reexamine its sexual assault practices and policies.

It’s a number that has caught the administration’s attention: In response to student concern, the Office of Student Life, under Dean Evelynn M. Hammonds, has recently convened a Sexual Assault Resources working group. The working group will “assess accessibility, transparency, and gaps in services,” writes Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response director Sarah A. Rankin. It is a response to at least a semester’s worth of actively voiced student concern.

read more: A Growing Movement: Students Aim to Change Culture and Policies Surrounding Sexual Assault on Campus


Crimson article about our Rape Culture Speak-Out!

Just an hour later, students gathered at Holden Chapel to share their reflections on rape culture in a event called “Speak Out,” which discussed rape culture in a forum setting.

Organizers said they sought to create a space where students could feel comfortable speaking about rape. “When it comes to rape culture, it’s very much associated with silence,” said Amanda J. Gokee ’14, a co-organizer of the event.

Those in attendance were asked to adhere to a code of confidentiality about the contents of the speakers’ presentations.

Although seven speakers were arranged ahead of time, sign-up sheets were passed around and members of the audience were invited to participated.

“The sheer act of talking about [rape] can be really empowering,” Kate Sim ’14 said, the founder of Our Harvard Can Better, which organized the event.

In her opening remarks, Sim said her group hoped to encourage scrutiny of the rape culture prevalent at Harvard and greater society.

“Rape culture really comes down to a set of social norms that constrain meaningful interaction and vilify sexuality that affects all of us as survivors and allies,” Sim said.

Our Harvard Can Do Better was also responsible for organizing the petition to put the affirmative consent referendum on the Undergraduate Council ballot. In addition to the ballot, which passed by a landslide majority, recent months at Harvard have seen the news of twoalleged rapes in and near Harvard Yard in August and hearty discussion of a former Amherst student’s account of her experience dealing with administrators after she was raped.

Cyatharine M. Alias ’15, who attended “Speak Out,” said the event covered more than “Sex Signals,” the program during freshman orientation week.

“I think it touched on a variety of things that other performances like Sex Signals don’t really talk about, like the healing process and the gay community,” Alias said.

Representatives from a number of campus peer counseling groups were present, both to speak out themselves and be on hand for those who might wish to seek out help after the event.

Read more: Two Events Continue Campus Conversation About Sexual Assaul


Harvard Reaction to Amherst Story

Harvard Univ. also felt the impact of Epifano’s story, overwhelmingly passing a historic referendum to create an affirmative definition of consent, clarify policy-related issues and provide more funding for education and sexual assault prevention programs with 85 percent of the vote. While the referendum was not binding, Assistant Dean of Student Life Emelyn dela Pena is working with student leaders to carry out the goals of the referendum. Kate Sim, a junior who helped lead the effort for the referendum said that Epifano’s op-ed helped energize the campaign.

“We were organizing before Angie’s article, but it definitely triggered response from the student body. Her story was so compelling and really brought a sense of urgency. It’s difficult not to see rape culture at play when reading Angie’s story,” said Sim.

Read more: Harvard Reaction to Amherst Story


[Crimson] UC Votes to Support Affirmative Consent

“The Undergraduate Council voted Sunday night to support the adoption of a College-wide affirmative consent policy, just one week before students are set to cast ballots on the very same issue.

The UC’s Sexual Assault Policies and Procedures Act calls on Harvard to adopt affirmative consent in order to “lessen ambiguity” and bring the University’s policies in line with those of its seven Ivy League peers.Affirmative consent—in which partners must affirmatively communicate their willingness to participate in sexual activity—is also at the center of this fall’s student-led sexual assault referendum.”

read more: UC Votes to Support Affirmative Consent