Unless you have been living under a rock, or are in complete denial of scientific studies, you probably know that sexual assault on college campuses is a huge problem. It has been getting a lot of attention lately, but a law was passed regarding it back in 1972.
The US federal government passed a law called Title IX in 1972. It’s simple: if universities want to receive taxpayer money, they can’t actively or passively discriminate against half the population–women.
Fast-forward to today. Women are still missing classes because of sexual assaults. They are still dropping out of universities because of sexual assaults. They can’t enjoy all that campus has to offer because of sexual assaults. Some men are also experiencing this, but the issue affects women in a massively disproportionate way– hence it’s an issue that falls under Title IX. Why is this still such a huge problem?
Most universities will say they are doing everything they can to prevent sexual assaults. But is that true? We decided to travel across America to find out. We talked to the people who were hired by universities to address sexual assault. Surely the universities were doing everything they could if they took the money to hire these people, right?
People hired to address sexual assaults on campuses are being held back, even undermined, by top university officials.
Here’s how they described the situation:
“Those power control dynamics that we talk about within domestic violence relationships are very much present in the work environment.”
“Our hands are tied.”
“I feel like sometimes I’m beating my head against a wall or screaming in a room and nobody can hear me.”
“We don’t have any type of power.”
“You get invited to pretty much every seat at every table but there’s a weird sort of silencing thing that happens.”
“We have no budget.”
“The university [says], ‘We must have the sexual violence expert’—and then they kind of pull me in and push me away at the same time… it’s scary.”
“The university has never had our backs.”
Based on our research, people hired by universities to address sexual assault are then shut down and undermined by top university officials. This means top university officials are breaking Title IX.
It’s time to hold them accountable. Mandate that top university officials receive training on Title IX and sexual assault, and then if they are still breaking the law, remove them from taxpayer funded positions. It’s the law.
A version of this post originally appeared in ThinkProgress.