Pursuing a college career is the dream of most girls in high school. The ones who end up going to college have high expectations for what it will be like, including meeting new people and making new friends.
Females now make up most of the students in college in the United States. As of 2021, women accounted for 58% of college students while men were at 42%. With females making up more than half of the student demographic, they are more likely to experience sexual assault while attending school.
And the prevalence of sexual violence on college campuses is shocking. One in four women experience sexual violence. RAINN — the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network — reports that more than 50% of college sexual assaults occur in either August, September, October or November — the starting months for fall semester.
The first few months back at school during the fall are full of social gatherings that often involve drugs and alcohol. And it’s hard to consent to sexual activity when you’re intoxicated. So it makes sense why the most sexual violence happens when students go back to school.
I am currently attending Cal State San Marcos where, in the first four weeks back at school, three incidents of sexual violence were reported on campus. It’s safe to say there were probably more because some female victims are too embarrassed to come forward.
Sexual violence on college campuses has been a prevalent issue for some time now and universities have taken measures to ensure the safety of their students. But is it enough? RAINN reports that 26% of undergraduate females have experienced rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation.
Many schools have online sexual assault prevention programs, support groups, mental health services, and many other efforts to prevent sexual violence and provide aid to anyone who experiences it. But even with all these resources, female college students still are less likely to report incidents of sexual assault.
We must remember that women aren’t the only people who can fall victim to sexual assault. Men can be victims too. And male college students are more likely to be victims of rape or sexual assault compared to non-students in the same age group.
Men who experience rape or sexual assault often don’t report it because they don’t want to seem weak. Colleges should strive to protect their male students just as their female students. If colleges do not provide the same protection to male students as female students, then the male students can become an easier target.
Obtaining a college degree can one of the most rewarding experiences for most students. Those who do fall victim to sexual assault during their college career can experience difficulties when it comes to their academic performance. And they can develop mental health disorders from experiencing sexual assault.
Post-traumatic stress syndrome is a common result of sexual assault. So more universities need to provide mental health resources for their college students.
Colleges should be doing everything in their power to keep their campuses safe. They should be providing mental health resources for all students to feel safe. Many students are leaving their homes for the first time to live on campus. They are putting their trust in the university to protect them and to provide resources that can help them.
But ultimately, with females making up most of the student demographic, parents need to make sure they are educating their daughters of the danger of sexual assault before sending them off to college.
Nevaeh Frazier is in her fourth year at Cal State San Marcos, where she is majoring in Social Sciences with a primary focus in psychology and secondary focus in women gender studies.