Every minute there are 20 people who fall victim to physical violence by an intimate partner in the U.S., according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. College campuses are no exception to this statistic.
The CDC defined sexual violence as “a sexual act committed against someone without that person’s freely given consent.”
Sexual violence can also be described as acts such as unwanted sexual contact, non-contact unwanted sexual experiences, forced penetration of a victim, etc. Around 79 percent of female survivors of completed rape reported that they were first raped before the age of 25, according to the CDC.
College campuses are popular targets for sexual violence to occur. According to a survey conducted by the Association of American Universities earlier this year, 23 percent of undergraduate student women said that they had experienced sexual misconduct or sexual assault. A total of 11.7 percent of students from 27 universities who responded to the survey reported that they had experienced some form of nonconsensual sexual contact.
Lauren Rauscher, assistant professor of sociology and coordinator for the Women’s Leadership and Mentorship Program, said she has personally been informed of five assaults concerning students of Robert Morris. Employees of the university are considered mandatory or required reporters if they hear or are told something regarding sexual violence. Rauscher has been required to report sexual assaults multiple times.
“Since I have been at RMU, I have had to report two. And I’ve only been here for two years,” said Rauscher. “And so I have conversations with the people who were involved to let them know and just be very clear this doesn’t mean you have to pursue anything, but I have to make the report so someone will be in contact with you.”
The first six weeks of a college female’s freshman year is known as the “Rape Red Zone.” This is when young women who are college students are most at risk to experience sexual assault or rape. Rauscher also stated that alcohol is more often than not involved in these types of situations. Sexual assault isn’t limited to just a few universities; it can and does happen everywhere.
“I think it’s a problem on all college campuses. I think that one report makes it a problem,” said Rauscher.