This year, the Skidmore College administration is prioritizing sexual assault. “We should have zero tolerance for sexual assault on campuses,” said President Glotzbach in a meeting with The Skidmore News, “just like we should have it in society, particularly in a small community where we are supposed to care for and respect one another.” In the state of college address, Addison Bennett stated SGA’s support for the nation-wide “It’s-On-Us” campaign, intended to broadcast awareness of sexual assault. “For SGA’s part,” said Addison, “we have committed ourselves to fighting the causes of sexual assault.” He continued extensively on this point, illustrating the issue’s significance, which he relayed as an “epidemic.”
One might ask what practical actions are being taken, considering Addison’s explanation that “SGA is taking up the awareness side of this problem.” This “awareness side” includes several campus initiatives, including “a speaker series, a video series, and some campus dialogue.”
Dean of Student Affairs Rochelle Calhoun called for “Students talking to other students—that’s where the change will happen.” President Glotzbach agreed, echoing both the It’s-On-Us Campaign and Calhoun: “Everybody needs to take responsibility for this issue.” The administration has been very vocal regarding the issue of sexual assault on campus. Glotzbach concluded the discussion with a summation, “We’re imperfect. But as a team, as a community, we can be perfect.”
Searching for some hard data (and to understand the procedures being taken), I reached out to Senior Class President Soraya Attia, who then referred me to the Clery Reports (The Clery Act, a policy requiring colleges to keep and disclose campus crime information, showed that 23 reports (12 of which were anonymous) were made last year, and 8 formal reports, which are incidents that extend to an investigation and hearing. A violation was found in 5 out of 8 of those reports.
Unfortunately, by nature of sexual misconduct, the data does not fully reflect the situation. According to a report prepared by the White House Council on Women and Girls and the Office of the Vice President, “Reporting rates for campus sexual assault are also very low; on average, only 12% of student victims report the assault to law enforcement.” While some students may choose criticize our administration for relying on policy changes to combat sexual assault, in truth, if an evident solution was in sight, then it would be taken. Skidmore College is far from the worst perpetrator of campus sexual assault, but in the words of Addison Bennett, “it would be very naïve of us to say we are immune from it.”