Sexual assault on college campuses garnered unprecedented attention in 2014, both around the country and here in East Lansing. Last January, President Obama formed a White House task force aimed at improving prevention of and response to rape and sexual assault at colleges and universities. In May, the U.S. Education Department released a list of 55 schools being investigated for their handling of sexual assault cases. Michigan State University was one of those schools.
Look up the word “catcall” in the dictionary and it reads “a shrill, whistle-like sound or loud raucous shout made to express disapproval at a theater, meeting, etc.” But the word’s come to mean a lot more in 2014. That became clear last week, after a video of a woman getting catcalled by men in New York City went viral and triggered days of discussion.
Momentum toward addressing issues of sexual violence on college campuses has strengthened considerably in the last year. Back in April, a White House task force released a comprehensive report to address sexual assault on our nation’s college campuses. Reports of sexual assault are on the rise at many colleges and universities, and there’s a list of more than 50 universities that are under federal investigation for their handling of sexual assaults on their campuses, a list that includes both the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.
“One in five women is sexually assaulted in college.” That’s the opening statement in a 20-page report released by the White House last week to address the epidemic of sexual assault on our nation’s college campuses. Last week, the U.S. Department of Education also revealed the names of the 55 colleges and universities that the agency is investigating for how they handle sexual assault complaints. As we know, the University of Michigan and Michigan State University were on that list.
It's Sexual Assault Awareness Month and a number of events have been happening across the MSU campus and in the Lansing area to bring attention to the issues surrounding sexual violence. Today, in particular, there are numerous events planned as part of Take Back the Night, including workshops, art displays, a candlelight vigil, and a march down Michigan Avenue from campus to the capital steps. Current State's Joe Linstroth spoke with two young leaders on campus about sexual assault.
On February 21, a campus-wide email was sent out by Paulette Granberry Russell, MSU’s Title IX Coordinator and director of its Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives. In it, she stated that the university was “collaborating” with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. It was later revealed by local news outlets that MSU was in fact under a federal investigation for its policies and response to sexual assault claims.