As my group and I started our final project on sexual assaults on campus, I started to think to myself that the people who have no care or urge to help the ongoing problems are probably the ones engaging in them. I started thinking that gathering all the data and information about what is happening at Vanderbilt is great and all but what is it doing directly to bring change? We know how many assaults are happen per year, who it usually happens to, where they usually occur, between what times they occur most frequently, and what is involved in the scenario such as drugs or alcohol. With this knowledge it would seem like solving the issues would be a piece of cake. This could not be further from the truth.
To start, as our results showed, most sexual assaults occur in dorm rooms between the times of 8pm and 3am. What should be done to counteract this? A couple ideas come to mind but don’t seem like they are plausible. First thing the school could do is after freshman year, make living off campus a priority instead of the other way around. The school makes way too much money on students living in dorms for four years in a row that it seems that they would never make the switch to an off campus based approach. Having students more spread out and not so close to each other could potentially slow down the assaults. If going back to your apartment makes it easier to escape some of the people at school than why should the administration tell you that this isn’t allowed? Think about it: a fraternity is having an on campus party and everyone is really drunk. Someone you know is being really creepy with you and you feel uncomfortable. Instead of going back to the same dorm in which this person lives, you call a taxi and go to an apartment complex with people from the real world and not just fellow students. As the statistics show, stranger danger is a myth and most sexual assaults occur from people who are known to you.
Next, if we know that alcohol is a contributing factor to sexual assaults why are limits and sanctions not being made? College students are at a very awkward age in which they feel as if drinking is the only way to have fun and come out of ones shell. Its either get really drunk and be ridiculous or don’t go out at all because there is no point. If this mentality won’t change, then alcohol all together should be what needs to be limited. The problem with this is that the school would never ban alcohol on campus because Vanderbilt would be far less attractive to many incoming huh school students who want to party and receive a great education for four years. Fraternities will never take alcohol away from their own parties because they think getting drunk is cool and taking it away would limit the frats reputation as being fun. Thus, the attractive and cooler girls would never show up to their parties.
Lastly, if we know that woman are far more likely to be sexually assaulted than men, why aren’t there more ways in which the school offers protection for them. As we all know, men tend to be bigger in stature than women and usually a bit stronger. Would there be a problem offering self-defense classes, mandatory check-ins with friends, or always having someone with you at all times while out? For men, why aren’t there more educational classes, seminars, or groups that talk about sexual assault and what counts as consent and what does not. The lines are not so black and white as we would all like it to be. When it comes to consent there are ton of grey areas in which people who study and work to try to protect people from assault do not have a complete grasp on.
With all the studies, information available, and resources that give us knowledge on how to protect the people at this school, I believe the leaders and people in charge are blinded by the money flowing through their bank accounts that they lose sight of the real issues and problems at hand. They have everything they need to fix the problems, but would rather add another zero to the end of their salary. We know letting people live off campus would be detrimental to the total income of the school, but at least use some of that money to hire better security officers or people who have safety as the number one priority. We know banning alcohol is very unlikely to happen at a University such as Vanderbilt, but have bans on the amount, type, and who receives it. We know woman are assaulted a much higher rate than men but no measures are set to specifically help them.
With this all being said, I believe strides have been taken to make Vanderbilt safer. But is it enough?