In 1986, Lehigh University freshman Jeanne Clery was raped and murdered in her dorm room. Her parents, realizing the lack of standards for campus crime reporting during that time period, funded the Jeanne Clery act. This act requires any public or private college or university to report any crime that occurs on campus. Unfortunately, this act has has the opposite of the intended effect. Since the Clery act was passed, schools have been failing to report any incidents of sexual assault on campus, because they only care about protecting their own reputations more than the safety of their students. As a result, they are suppressing students into being scared to share their experiences with the authorities.
The entire system of handling rape cases is corrupt at several universities and colleges. A documentary by CNN, The Hunting Ground, follows many of these critical issues students are faced with when deciding to speak out about an incident that happened to them. The expose mainly follows two students, Andrea Pino and Annie Clark, who were both victims of sexual assault on campus. In the film, the two students speak about how the school officials neglected to take their pleas for help into consideration and instead advised them to not say anything at all, specifically not to report the incident to the authorities. In the film, Ms. Clark recounts the moments of her sexual assault and how she went weeks before finally deciding to speak up, after hearing another one of her classmates were assaulted as well. She says “ I told this administrator I was violently raped and were sitting down at this point and she looks at me and shoe goes ‘rape is like a football game Annie, and if you look back on the game, what would you do differently in that situation.” Annie then goes on to speak about how she was expecting resources and support and instead the faculty gave her a metaphor referencing football. Ms Clark, like many other victims all across the Unites states, were discouraged from speaking up. If victims of sexual assault on campus cannot rely on the school to aid them, they will not be able to trust that if they speak up and that their situation will be handled properly, hence they become discouraged. In fact, The Hunting Ground’s research also claims that the 88 percent of women raped on campus do not report it. Students are feeling ashamed and hopeless instead of feeling empowered to speak up and share their story, and this is all rooted from the universities sweeping issues under the rug and trying to convince students to do the same.
Even when victims do report crimes against them, there have been hundred of sexual assault on campus cases that have been mishandled by school professionals. For instance, that of Kamilah Willingham case. She was a harvard law student who was sexually assaulted on campus in her dorm room, after a night out with her two friends, one of those friends being Brandon Winston, her alleged offender. After bringing her case to her school officials, a mock trial was held at the university, to see if Mr. Winston was to be held accountable. In an interview Kamilah Willingham did with democracynow.org recounting those moments in the makeshift courtroom at Harvard Law school, she states “and then 19 of my Harvard law professors publicly defended him and did much of what we see happening in this case, bringing the attention to the perpetrator as the, quote-unquote, “real victim” in this case.” When students see cases like Ms. Willingham's, they will feel nothing but discouragement. Seeing how Harvard reacted to Kamilah's case can make students believe that if they were to share their story the same thing would happen to them. They start to believe that teachers aren't going to help, but are going to look out for the best interest of the school.
In the end, Jeanne Clery’s offender was sentenced to death. She may have gotten justice, but there many girls like her who were not as fortunate as her. School officials are discouraging taking action against sexual assault to keep their crime numbers artificially low, protecting their image and encouraging students to continue to apply to their school. Students in high school need to know this information to know how to protect themselves from situations that can put them in harm's way, and if they are ever faced with predicaments as such, they must know how to handle it properly themselves, because students cannot always rely of people in higher authorities for help.
Work CIted “The Hunting Ground .” The Hunting Ground Film , www.thehuntinggroundfilm.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/The-Hunting-Ground-Action-Toolkit_8.31.15.pdf. “As 13M People Read Stanford Victim’s Letter, Advocates See “Watershed” Moment in Fight Against Rape.” Democracy Now!, www.democracynow.org/2016/6/9/as_13m_people_read_stanford_victims.