News Ticker

Campuses confront sexual violence

Christian Spencer

College campuses across the nation are taking a stand against sexual assault and rape. Activists such as Caroline Heldman, the associate professor of politics at Occidental College, are front and center leading the cause.

“Every college that’s residential and co-ed across the United States—all of them—have a problem. Every single one of them,” Heldman said during her presentation at the Andrus Center on June 12. “If your campus says it doesn’t have a problem—it does.”

Heldman specializes in presidency, gender, media and race in the American context. She is active in the new campus anti-rape movement, co-founding End Rape on Campus (EROC) and Faculty Against Rape (FAR). Heldman works with survivors and activists in the United States to hold their institutions accountable.

“The sexual assault movement has been well under way for well over a century,” said Heldman.

During her presentation, she claimed that the current generation is experiencing another movement against sexual assault, sexual violence and rape. 

According to a report put out by The White House, nearly one in five women have been or will be raped in their lifetime, and that rape is more common in young people and more prevalent amongst college students. The report and Heldman attribute college age being high risk due to the college environment of partying, drinking and using drugs.

Most attackers are serial offenders, meaning that they will commit more than one rape, averaging six rapes each. Most rapes on college campuses are committed by a small number of repeat offenders.

Citing national statistics, Heldman said, “If you are a man on a college campus you are more likely to be a victim of rape than a perpetrator.”

Heldman and the White House report note that the issue doesn’t lie with the victims but their assailants.

A trend among certain institutions and universities is to encourage victims to stay quiet. This is referred to as “institutional betrayal.”

“What happens is, oftentimes rape and sexual assault survivors will come forward and the institution will end up re-traumatizing them,” Heldman said. “So, what do they experience? Survivors come forward and the common stories we hear are [the survivors] were told that it is ‘no big deal,’ they need to ‘get over it,’ and they’re discouraged from reporting claims both with the college and with local law enforcement.

“Some [survivors] will be told by administration, ‘Well, you know it would be really expensive if you went to report to the police.’”

One form of institutional betrayal is allowing the assailant to remain enrolled at the institution, creating a Title IX case.

“I honestly think that the institution should do its best to protect the student—including the victim,” said Nathan Cook, sophomore psychology major. “Rape is not only illegal, it’s immoral. I believe if [the rapist] was a student on campus then he should be banned off school grounds and should be expelled.”

Boise State is currently facing a lawsuit for mishandling a sexual assault case in 2013. Two women are suing the school with the help of lawyer Gloria Allred. Read more about this case at

Boise State’s Women’s Center has broken ground on helping victims and providing support and resources.

“The Women’s Center offers no-cost, confidential support for students of all genders,” said Adriane Bang, a violence prevention and support coordinator for the Women’s Center. “We are a safe space to process emotions, and we can provide support in reporting to police or the university or accessing community resources.”

Bang stressed the importance of educational efforts undertaken by the university on an individual level.

Education about the dynamics of sexual violence as well the importance of bystander intervention is key to ensuring sexual violence becomes less common,” Bang said.

Starting Fall 2014 all incoming students will be required to complete an online educational module, coinciding with a national effort to ensure campuses are increasingly able to recognize situations where no consent is given and preparing them to intervene.

About Eryn Shay Johnson (0 Articles)
Eryn Shay Johnson is the Assistant News Editor at the Arbiter. She currently studies communication at Boise State University. Johnson has a history in producing media content; she has produced content for The Post Register of Idaho Falls and The Times-News in Twin Falls. Her article “Good for the Soul: Group uses laughter as path to better health” was picked up by the Associated Press in July 2011. When she isn’t writing or studying Johnson spends time with her boyfriend, dog, and cat in their south Boise home.