Sexual Assault & Harassment At Universities

Sexual assault and sexual harassment are terms known all too well to women, and specifically women attending college universities. Individuals most at risk for sexual harassment or assault on college campuses are females, transgenders, and non-gender conforming individuals. Around 36 percent of undergraduate and graduate female students experience nonconsensual sexual contact and 37 percent of undergraduate, graduate, trans and non-binary students also experience nonconsensual sexual contact.

While female, transgender, and non-binary individuals are not the only people who experience sexual assault and harassment on college campuses, they are the majority of people who do. Unfortunately, there are male students on college campuses who also experience sexual assault and harassment. However, the risk of male college students to be victims of sexual harassment or assault, undergraduate and graduates, is significantly lower than that of females, transgenders, and non-binary individuals.

Sexual harassment and sexual assault on college campuses have been chalked up to a “women’s issue.” As people frequently blame the victim of the sexual assault and harassment rather than the actual abuser/ perpetrator of the assault. Victims of sexual assault on college campuses are often blamed for what happened to them. Oftentimes victims are blamed for the items of clothing they wear when the assault happens, as well as the activities the victims partook in prior to the assault. Clearly, for every nonconsensual sexual contact, sexual harassment, and sexual assault, it is NEVER the victim’s fault. Unfortunately, victims are still blamed in our society.

I personally know countless individuals, including myself, who have experienced sexual assault and sexual harassment on and off college campuses being an undergraduate student. Someone, whom I know, had been a victim of a heinous sexual assault. She was a college undergraduate at the time, and this happened on her college campus. She had confided in her mother after the attack but was met with no empathy. She was blamed for being attacked by her own mother.  

When is the line drawn? When do we start to focus the blame on the actual perpetrators of the crime? When can we stop obsessing about what the victims do and start turning our attention to what the abusers did? Sexual assault and sexual harassment needs to be discussed to college student’s way more than it is now. JMU sends “assignments” for the students to complete prior to each school year that discuss sexual assault and harassment, but never do they address it to the students and faculty’s faces.

I personally feel that JMU has hidden sexual assault and harassment cases from students and faculty. I completely understand that not all cases of sexual harassment and assault are reported because of how extremely difficult and devastating the process can be for the victims. Furthermore, I understand that disclosing these incidents of assault and harassment to students and faculty can be even more devastating to the victims. However, in all of my time here at JMU, I have never heard the administrators talk about sexual assault or harassment incidents that have occurred on campus, or even in the community. Yet, the students and faculty get frequent emails about the criminal activity that occurs on and off campus.

It’s not that there’s never been an instance of sexual assault or harassment in JMU in the past few years, they’re choosing not to talk about it. JMU Fraternity houses get put on “probation” or become “suspended” for a month after they sexually assault high risk victims. Unfortunately, the school will never tell you about that. What they will tell you, via email, are prevention mechanisms like “go out with a buddy,” or “make sure your phone is charged when you go out.” But it’s almost never telling or encouraging people to stop sexually harassing and assaulting people. What the school is doing instead, is telling high risk victims of these crimes to protect themselves from the assaults when they happen, rather than telling people not to assault others.

3 thoughts on “Sexual Assault & Harassment At Universities

  1. Thank you for sharing this, especially during sexual assault awareness month. This is extremely important and timely.


  2. This post is really important to talk about. So many campuses in the world tries and hide the fact that men and women get sexual assaulted on their campuses. It needs to be talked about more and brought into the light.


  3. This is SUCH an important topic and I truly think it’s not talked about enough. I think all schools, JMU included, need to stop worrying so much about their reputation and more about how students within the university are treated.


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