This isn’t easy to read, but it is a must for every student who is now in college, who is about to go to college, or who is thinking of ever going, as well as for their parents and guardians: this package of extraordinary stories by Washington Post colleagues about sexual assault on campuses across the United States and the culture of alcohol-infused behavior in which it flourishes. The project — by Nick Anderson, Emma Brown, Susan Svrluga, Steve Hendrix, Peyton M. Craighill and Scott Clement — reveals, among other things:
*Twenty percent of young women and five percent of men who attended college during the past four years say they were sexually assaulted by physical force or while they were incapacitated, according to a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll. But that is probably a low estimate. Many others say they fought off attacks or agreed to have sex because they were threatened.
*Most survivors say they never reported their assaults to the police or their college, throwing into question the validity of campus crime statistics.
*Many survivors blame a lack of respect for women and a culture of expected sex.
*A culture of alcohol on college campuses is pervasive and strongly linked to sexual assault, with heavy drinking being one of the most significant predictors of sexual assault in college, the poll says.
*Male survivors of sexual assault say they fear that they will not be taken seriously if they report their experiences to the police or colleges.
*There are deep divisions on college campuses about the meaning of sexual consent. One story says: “Forty-six percent said it’s unclear whether sexual activity when both people have not given clear agreement is sexual assault. Forty-seven percent called that scenario sexual assault.”
*Colleges say they are beefing up their response to sexual assault — but is it enough?
Here are the links to each story. Take the time to read them.