Campus Sexual Assaults Can and Should be Tried as Crimes Against Humanity

The AAU (the Association of American Universities) did a nation-wide survey of 28 university campuses to measure the extent of how much campus sexual assault was happening at our college campuses. This was the most extensive study to date with over 200,000 student participants. They found that 23% of women were sexually assaulted during their undergraduate career, nearly 50% of those were acts of rape, and 15% of students were sexually assaulted university wide. Make no mistake, rape is often an extremely violent crime, and yet America has been resigned to passively allowing this silent crime against humanity to continue. 97% of rapists will never set foot a day in jail and that is due to not only the impossibly high levels of evidence required to convict someone of rape, but it also reflects institutions like universities trying to sweep these crimes under the rug to hide the levels of violence happening on their campuses.

By allowing American university officials to hide these crimes, allowing them to pressure victims to "suck it up," and letting them protect and insulate these faculty, students, and staff who perpetuate these acts, universities are committing a crime against humanity. This nation-wide sexual assault epidemic will cause the Vatican molestation scandal to look like peanuts compared to what we are currently allowing on college campuses.

Under the Rome Statue, the international body of law adopted by the International Criminal Court, rape is considered to be a possible genocidal act, a possible crime against humanity, and a possible war crime. It is entirely possible for the perpetrators to be charged with all 3. These three variations depend on the intent and circumstances of the crime the committed. In order for rape to it be considered genocide, it not only needs to be systematic, but with the intent of eliminating a society by using rape. Examples of this can be seen in Australia with the aboriginal women and young girls being taken from their homes up until the 1970s and raped to help "purify" their blood line while slowly removing aboriginals from the continent by forcing them to have the children of white men.

In order to be considered a crime against humanity, the crime of rape needs to be systematic and those responsible for protecting and enforcing law need to have proven knowledge of the extent of the crime.

Article 7 of the Rome Statute

For the purpose of this Statute, ‘crime against humanity’ means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack: (a) Murder; (b) Extermination; 4 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (c) Enslavement; (d) Deportation or forcible transfer of population; (e) Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law; (f) Torture; (g) Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity;


CU Boulder Sexual Assault Statistics


I currently serve as the chairman of the Sexual Misconduct Committee at the University of Colorado Boulder. I took on this role not because I am an expert on campus sexual assault, not because I think a man should lead this fight, but because I was literally the only person on the staff leadership who wanted to confront this problem. Administrators and university officials are hesitant to even bring light to this issue in fears that their big donation dollars will dry up because of the rape culture they have allowed. Even getting those within the university to talk about this issue is like pulling teeth.

CU Boulder, was originally part of the AAU study, but they quickly worried about certain questions on the survey, and they dropped out to preform its own hand-crafted survey.Their results showed that 28% of undergraduate women were sexually assaulted during their undergraduate career on CU-Boulder's campus and 18% university-wide.

This means that nearly 4,000 people will be sexually assaulted during their undergraduate careers at the University of Colorado Boulder. CU Boulder reported 14 sexual assaults last year as part of the Clery Act. This shows that not only are they criminally under-reporting the extent of this epidemic, but that victims are terrified to come forward about their attacks. This hesitation and fear among victims prevents very necessary medical help as well as legal action.  Unfortunately, this example can be seen at universities across the nation.

rape stats

A women raped on a college campus has about an 85% chance of telling no university or law enforcement official. This is substantial and much higher than the national average of 60% and it is due to lack of action on the university's part.

In 2007, CU- Boulder settled a Title IX lawsuit and paid $2.8 million to Lisa Simpson and another woman who alleged that they were raped at a party attended by CU football players. She was sexually assaulted February of that year. Her assailant, an undergraduate male, was found responsible for non-consensual sexual intercourse by the school's student discipline office. His punishment included an eight-month suspension, $75 fine and a paper. It also took four weeks for her assailant to be removed from campus, and during that time he went against an order to have no contact with her several times.

This is the problem.  The university believes that slapping a football player on the wrist removes the threat and is a sufficient penalty to the crime. This is why so many women are terrified to come forward because there is no guarantee that anything besides a 500-word punishment awaits their rapist.

Now, the biggest obstacle to treating this as a crime against humanity is the fact that the United States is not part of the International Criminal Court. Republicans have routinely blocked this in fear that one of their own might get charged with war crimes.  However, the ICC has not only charged people who are not part of this treaty agreement, but they have even held trials when the person refuses to show.

The President of Sudan Omar al-Bashir , a country also not part of the ICC, has been charged with genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes for the actions he has taken and supported in the Darfur region. His trial is on-going despite his refusal to ever show up to the Hauge. Why am I mentioning this?  Rape was a part of the crimes charged against him with over 2,000 cases that show he was well aware of what the Janjaweed was doing. Remember that CU Boulder alone had an estimated 4,000 victims during a 4 year period.

University Presidents are either criminally negligent by refusing to look at the data on these crimes, or they are simply just criminal. Either way this issue is going to require all of us to have the courage to stand up and start fighting back.  This is a difficult issue to talk about for all, but the numbers show that 1 in 4 women are being sexually assaulted. Just keep that number in mind when you are walking through the dense crowds on one of these campuses. 25% of the women you see will either experience a sexual assault by the time they leave that campus or already have experienced sexual assault. Then the only thing you should ask yourself is  "Does this issue deserve my immediate attention and action?" If the answer is yes, then maybe its time to start being a bit more vocal.

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