Sexual assault is not just a crime; it is a gross violation of our human rights. As the conversation about sexual violence ignites on the national platform, small-scale, university-focused efforts are the key to impacting sustainable change.
This fall I interviewed women who recently graduated from Arizona State, Cal, Dartmouth, Stanford, Tufts, UCLA and UC Santa Barbara. Each woman offered practical wisdom and heartfelt advice.
We are failing if we make our victories dependent on eschewing the rights our legal system was founded on -- fairness, due process, a presumption of innocence -- in order to obtain findings of guilt in sexual assault cases without regard to the facts.
I had the pleasure of speaking at St. Joseph's College in Brooklyn on Monday. My first lecture was to the Freshmen and they were just a delightful audience. They participated fully, they laughed with me, they leaned in and listened when I was vulnerable. And many of them did not want to leave when it was over.
As the country begins to give greater attention to the problem of sexual assault, it is my hope that we will also validate the experiences of young women who have suffered from other forms of abuse.
For the past five years, I essentially suffered in silence because I wanted to believe I was the same person I was before the attack. I refused to acknowledge it because I didn't want to be known as the girl who was raped her freshman year.
After survivors filed federal Title IX and Clery Act complaints against UC Berkeley for sweeping cases under the rug to the U.S. DOE, spearheaded state and federal legislation and created a national dialogue about campus sexual assault, how does UC Berkeley respond? By hiring a few people, making a website and creating posters.
I'm not talking about teaching boys to hold doors open for girls. I'm talking about parents taking the lead in actively teaching our children to value human dignity and human empathy -- in both sexes.
If you think really, really hard, can anyone come up with a single conceivable way in which Yik Yak might do something so good that it outweighs the fear it's putting in members of these communities?
We've missed an opportunity for a discussion on the broader issue -- violence against college women, part of an age group which is the most vulnerable.
While recent high-profile examples come from the United States, violence against women is a global issue, and remains one of the most entrenched and horrific forms of gender inequality.
This is utterly unconscionable, and, frankly, insane. It is the absolute last message we should be sending to college students. It is especially surprising considering many advocates' recent focus on the importance of obtaining enthusiastic consent.
Despite my preconceived notions, when I arrived on campus this Fall I was impressed by lengths to which campus officials went address this issue of sexual assault. This was premature. Within a couple weeks of coming to campus, the blatant sexualization of women became apparent.
The California state legislature unanimously passed a bill this month requiring universities to redefine their official definitions of consent as an "affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity." The bill's passing is an incredibly needed step in the right direction.
If we really want to reduce sexual assault in the military and on college campuses, the lessons of respect, consent and bystander intervention need to be instilled in elementary education through high school.
As our country moves forward with awareness and acknowledgment of the epidemic of rape on campus, someone's been left behind: our college men.