Time to take sexual assaults seriously

Published 7:54 am Monday, October 20, 2014

It’s time to have a conversation.

Imagine being in a large college football stadium. Look around at the sea of people surrounding you — the fans, cheerleaders, band members, football players. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one out of every four women in that stadium setting will be sexually assaulted while living on a college campus.

Did your draw just drop? It should.

Want another shock? Louisiana has no statewide policy for handling allegations of sexual assault at colleges and universities in this great state.

That needs to change. It’s time to come up with an effective, enlightening approach to this intimate and complex problem.

Sen. J.P. Morell, D-New Orleans, has a suggestion. Under his guidance, a taskforce of Louisiana advocates against sexual assault are in the beginning stages of trying to survey college students about their experiences.

“The problem you have right now — as long as the data isn’t complete — people say, ‘Things aren’t as bad as you say they are,’” Morrell said.

He told the Baton Rouge Advocate that his goal is to form state legislation with the group’s findings, after a report by the state Board of Regents found a lack of uniformity in addressing campus assaults.

The report found that colleges and universities across the state have been handling allegations of sexual assault in varying ways. “Louisiana’s campuses are striving to form an effective but fair response to the issue of sexual assaults; however, significant additional measures are necessary to ensure that college campuses are safe spaces for students,” the report concludes.

Morell’s taskforce is being split into subcommittees to identify various issues and questions that should be addressed in the survey. No official timeline was given for when the survey could start.

A fair and effective system that is mindful of victims and due process is long overdue. It won’t happen overnight, but luckily the wheels are in motion for change to happen.

It’s time to have a conversation.(MGNonline)