Do you feel safe on-campus, do you know Title IX?
The Logical Liberal
A few Fridays ago I left Alexander Library at midnight. As I called an Uber, I couldn’t help but wonder why I felt it was necessary to take a cab. Clearly there were buses still running, but the masses outside of the College Avenue Student Center, some drunk, proved too hectic and too rowdy for my liking. Reluctantly, I paid for the Uber and made it to my dorm unbothered.
When walking at night from Hickman Hall to my dorm I carry mace in one hand and my keys in the other. As a woman, I have been taught, almost subconsciously, that carrying my keys at night is necessary. That when I go to my car at night, I must lock my door almost immediately after getting in. But this experience is not just my own, almost all the women I have talked to, young and old, have had similar experiences. From a young age, women have a sense of fear instilled in them, making it hard to ever feel safe.
University campuses are known throughout the country as not being the safest places for women. The National Institute of Justice stated that one in five college-aged women would be sexually assaulted during their time in higher education. There are countless horrifying stories of women who have been sexually assaulted at college parties, often making national news. All in all, it is hard to feel safe at school, especially when the University does not take the measures needed for students to feel safe.
While the University proudly touts the many services available to students, access to those services is limited. For example, I have never seen the Rutgers University Police Department patrolling campus — save for the one or two cop cars on College Ave on the weekends. Instead of showing off the police force, the University should actually use RUPD tactfully. After all the crime alerts that have been issued this semester alone, the University needs to have more security present around campus at night. Students should not have to feel unsafe walking from the library back to their dorms on the other side of their respective campus. RUPD or even a student security presence is an imperative vigilance on campus. This is especially needed because there is a huge lack of lighting on each of the campuses. This lack of lighting is not only a security issue, but an overall safety issue in regard to pedestrians being seen by cars or buses.
Something that also needs to be addressed is the lack of knowledge and access the University provides to Title IX and the Title IX Coordinator. Part of the Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX is a provision in the amendments that provides female students with not only equal opportunity in sports, but equal opportunity in pursuing and receiving an education. Title IX importance is monumental and is famous for ensuring that women and men get equal funding in sports. However, Title IX is also valuable for the protection it provides for women in cases of sexual assault on campus.
Sexual assault and sexual harassment inherently bereave students of equal access and equal opportunity to education. When students who are survivors do not have their cases handled with integrity it deprives the student survivors of their ability to obtain an education. For instance, when a university fails to take complaints seriously or provide a trail against the alleged attacker, it dismantles the student survivor’s ability to actively pursue their education. Universities across the country have repeatedly fumbled when dealing with cases of sexual assault and harassment. It is seemingly easier to sweep these accusations under the rug or make the process so difficult that the student survivor loses hope and agency in pursuing their case.
The University, while giving some information to CAPS and other programs, does not fully provide information on Title IX to incoming freshman or current students. The University does not provide the phone numbers to Title IX coordinators or even explain to students that they have rights under the statute. Students deserve to know their rights, and the University has a duty to educate, share and explain these rights to students. If our institution can have an extensive force of officers that give parking tickets, then it can create a mission to provide students with the knowledge of their Title IX rights. The University can only help students feel safe, if they show students that they will advocate on their behalf.
Sonni Waknin is a sophomore in the School of Arts and Sciences majoring in political science and history. Her column "The Logical Liberal," runs on alternate Fridays.