Sexual Assault and Campus Culture

Sexual violence against women on college campuses is extensive. Nearly a quarter of female students, according to a survey by the Association of American Universities, have been the targets of sexual harassment or assault. The problem made national news again recently, when ten University of Minnesota football players were suspended or expelled due to a brutal rape of a female student. The football team responded to the University by threatening to boycott a Holiday bowl game and the coach applauded his players collection action as making a “better world.” Minnesota SSN members mobilized to address the incident and trace its roots in America’s culture of masculinity, university reliance on revenue-generating sports, and lax recruiting practices.

An MPR News broadcast detailed the specifics of the case and the steps scholars aim to take to assure that sexual assault is taken seriously and handled fairly by their institution. Minneapolis-St. Paul SSN chapter leader Lawrence Jacobs moderated a panel, which included SSN members Doug Hartmann and Christopher Uggen, to discuss the role of university codes of conduct, athletic team culture, and the future of sexual assault policy on campus.

For more research on related issues, see Celene Reynolds’ SSN brief detailing the importance of Title IX provisions in dealing with sex crimes on campus, “What We Know – and Need to Learn – about Progress against Sex Discrimination in Higher Education,” and Sandy Zook and Eric Joseph Van Holm’s SSN brief on the impact of football programs on school enrollment and fundraising - factors often cited in critiques of institutions' responses to sex crimes perpetrated by student athletes: “Does Starting New Football Programs Help Universities?

December 2016