Why Colleges Won’t (Really) Address Rape Culture
Keeping rape culture under wraps means reported-rape numbers remain low. If more survivors spoke out, schools would have to provide more staff resources to handle the complaints and, at the same time, the allegations would threaten the school’s reputation and bottom line.
Schools also benefit from hazy definitions of consent and ad hoc sanctions because, as noted above, this creates unnecessary ambiguity that gives administrators the power to consider other factors when determining responsibility and sanctions. Title IX complaints filed with the Department of Education include claims of administrators conducting biased investigations and adjudication processes that resulted in light sanctions for athletes, student leaders, perpetrators with donor parents and perpetrators who threatened to sue the college.
To sum up, colleges cannot effectively shift broader rape culture because this would require multiple societal institutions working together to address deep-seated sexist beliefs upheld by men and women. But colleges can address the manifestations of rape culture on their campuses by establishing clear definitions of consent, sexual battery, sexual assault and rape, conveying these definitions to students and establishing and enforcing universal sanctions for different forms of sexual violence. It’s time for schools to step up.