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Sexual Assault on College Campuses

by on November 10, 2014

Eric’s revelation about the recent sexual assaults on campus, as well as our school’s less than stellar reputation when it comes to handling sexual assault got me thinking about a journalist’s role amidst sexual assault cases. Boston.com just released a story of a student who has tested positive for a date-rape drug following a Brown University frat party. The article also details how horrible Brown has been regarding sexual assault cases in the past.

My question is this: at what point do journalists – whether they be from on-campus, local, or national publications – start holding universities and colleges accountable for mishandling sexual assaults? From what I’ve seen, the most journalists have done is bring to light how badly these universities often treat victims, and how often they brush aside rapists and offenders in favor of keeping their school’s reputation pristine. Is it ever okay for a journalist to voice an opinion to enact change, or should they stick to that “view of nowhere” and let local politicians, activists, students, etc take charge? As a college-aged woman on a campus notorious for brushing aside sexual assault cases (and in some cases, getting the case entirely wrong – though I would like to mention that false rape accusations come out to less than 1% statistically, whereas 3 of every 100 rapists actually serve time for their crime), in addition to being a female journalist, I sort of feel like it is my responsibility to change the course of rape culture and urge the campus, as well as the students, to change their behavior and handling of sexual assaults. I also wonder if being a female, college-aged woman becomes a means of conflict of interest in a story like this, or if my opinion is really worth what I think it is.

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2 Comments
  1. As much as I’d like to be a voice in changing the modern day rape culture, I do not think it is up to journalists to do so. It is incredibly difficult to see so many of the same tragedies occur over and over again but the journalists have done their job in bringing these stories to the public. With an objective approach and simply explaining the details in these stories, hopefully people will start to say something or do something about it. Due to the severity of these unfortunate events, it is with complete trust in the people to take action. Journalists should be giving the truth and enough information to help people form their own opinions. Journalists are supposed to take an objective stance and as for people to take action in preventing such tragedies to occur again, there are activists to do so. Fortunately there are activist groups that use the information given to them by journalists and stand against rape culture. I feel the same way, if I were to cover such a horrible event, I’d want to put my own opinion in what went wrong but it is my job to stay as the view from nowhere.

  2. I agree with both of you about the conflict as a journalist when you are covering a story that brings a lot of emotions and controversy up. Sometimes you yourself want to speak up and voice an opinion because you feel an attachment to it and want to bring a voluminous awareness to subjects such as rape.

    However, as a journalist I think your job is to seek the truth and inform everyone on it but do it in a way where your views won’t cloud anyone else’s. Journalists provide the information for reader’s to not only inform but to help form their own opinions and take on the situation. They rely on us to provide them with the facts.

    Also, I think you want to take into account of how the victim of the rape and their family are dealing with this situation. When you’re writing about it and reporting on it, you need to be sensitive and write only the facts to inform. You have to do your best because when news media picks up this story, the victim has to revisit the event again and again.

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