Altering Assault

Eighteen years is too long a time to neglect a sexual harassment policy.

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, the largest anti-sexual assault organization in the country, one in six women and one in 33 men can be expected to fall victim to sexual assault in their lifetimes.

These one in six women are at an even greater risk during their college-aged years. On a college campus, a woman is more than four times more likely to be sexually assaulted.

The data show that sexual assault should be addressed at colleges and universities nationwide but as The Temple News reports on page 1, the university’s policy has not been updated since 1992. The Pennsylvania State Police Department revealed that there have already been 41 known cases of either rape or attempts of rape in Philadelphia as of March 2010.

While we commend the university for having an otherwise comprehensive policy on sexual assault, it is no longer enough to simply have one. The members of the Temple community have the right to work in an environment free from unwanted sexual advances. They should also feel assured that if someone violates the punishment, the university will properly punish that person by alerting the appropriate authorities.

At the very least, victims should know where to go if they were to ever experience such behavior. But the listed contact information for the Sexual Assault Counseling Education coordinators, Campus Police and the sexual harassment ombudsperson for each college have not been updated since the 2002-2003 academic year.

A lot has changed in 18 years, both on and off campus. Even the rate of sexual assault has decreased by more than 60 percent since 1993 – one year after Temple’s policy was first instated.

The seventh section of the 13-page statement said the policy should be distributed so that all students, faculty and staff are aware of it at the start of each academic year, yet it has been anything but visible. If Temple wants to maintain a safe environment for its community, it should start by holding itself to its own standards first, or no one else will.

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