THE BLOG

#FAILURE: Miami University's Stance on Rape Awareness

10/24/2012 02:37 pm ET | Updated Dec 24, 2012

On October 8, 2012 a flyer titled "Top Ten Ways to Get Away with Rape" was found in the men's restroom in a co-ed dormitory at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. The flyer suggested disturbing advice on how to slip date rape drugs into drinks without getting caught and why women should be raped, including Tip #4, "If a (sic) women's window is unlocked sneak in and rape her to teach her not to do it again." Today, Miami University released a statement saying two male students will be disciplined for writing the salacious flyer, and a police report has been filed.

Upon notification of this incident, Miami University held a mandatory "educational" meeting for the male students in the dorm, and has since posted additional security officers in the vicinity of the dormitory. However, the University failed to notify the student body at large and the issue only came to the attention of students and parents after it was posted online by Kate Von Fossen, the vice president of WAVE (Women Against Violence & Sexual Assault), a student association which focuses on gendered violence awareness and prevention. Prior to the Internet posting, WAVE had requested that Miami University administrators inform the student body at large about the incident, to which the University failed to provide any response. In the wake of the media firestorm surrounding this incident, Miami University's VP of Student Affairs, Barbara Jones, stated that no campus-wide alert was issued because the flyer did not pose an immediate threat to the general student body. I ask, in a generation where violence and aggression is perpetuated by pop culture, how is placing ideas of rape into young men's heads not a campus-wide issue?

Miami University reported 27 sexual assaults between 2009 and 2011, 19 of which allegedly occurred in the dorms. The Oxford Police Department correspondence records show 22 instances of sexual assault in Oxford in 2010, 18 in 2011, and 25 so far in 2012. These numbers far surpass the school's official statistics.

The rate of sexual assaults both on-campus and off-campus in Oxford decreased in 2011. Unfortunately, the school's sexual assault prevention and response website has been inactive for over a year, as evident by the website's events page, which states that they "have no current events planned until Fall Semester 2011." Moreover, the school's "Sexual Assault Prevention Coordinator" post has been vacant for at least one year. Notable duties of the Sexual Assault Prevention Coordinator include promoting awareness of sexual assault. With only out-of-date resources available to students and an administration that hushes up incidents, students are left unsupported and uneducated at a time when sexual assaults are increasing on campus. Unfortunately, from September 3, 2012 to October 9, 2012 there were five instances of sexual assault on or around the campus involving students -- two of which occurred within 24 hours of the "rape flyer" being posted.

Thankfully, the school has produced the two alleged culprits behind the flyer. However, the issue at focus should be the administration's response to the incident when the flyer was first discovered. In light of the horrifying statistics of rape, and the school's clear lack of focus on making rape education a priority, it leaves little to wonder as to why the two male students thought it acceptable to create and post this flyer up.

The college did a commendable job investigating and finding the authors of the flyer, however, what now? Are they going to point the finger at themselves and ask, "how could we have prevented this from happening?" A more efficient reaction would have been to educate the entire campus on why rape culture is never a joke and to focus on providing support for any students offended or traumatized by this event. The University's lack of transparency and failure to treat the situation with immediate and appropriate gravity shows an unnerving flippancy in its treatment of sexual violence and the well-being of their students. The Miami University administration needs to take this incident as a loud wake-up call to revamp and improve their education and prevention amenities.

Co-authored with William Moran, Legal Intern of Becky's Fund and Jeanette Lee, Legal Intern of Becky's Fund.

Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/enddv and on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BeckysFund#!/BeckysFund