Sexual assault has been a growing epidemic in colleges all over America, with 20 percent - 25 percent of college women and 15 percent of college men being forced to have sex, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC).
In Athens, Ohio at Ohio University, the number of sexual assault reports are increasing, with a spike in 2016, where there were 32 reported rapes, nearly double the amount in 2014, according to OU’s Crime and Emergency Alert Report.
Of the four that have already taken place this year, one in particular has caused many students like 2017 graduate Gillian Abrams, a sophomore at OU, to feel unsafe. It was reported on Sept. 3 that a female student was kidnapped and raped in the Wray House on OU’s campus.
“There’s this electricity on campus at night between women because we have each other’s backs. But also whenever we see men at night - it doesn’t matter what they’re doing - we are freaked out,” Abrams said.
Because of the Clery Act, all United States universities are required to disclose information about crimes that occur in and around their campus. However, 90 percent of sexual assaults that take place aren’t reported, according to the NSVRC, making it hard for people like OUPD Capitan George Harlow to accurately report information on the number of sexual assaults that take place.
"It is often difficult for survivors to report the fact that he or she has been assaulted, but when they do, they give us opportunities to connect dots," Harlow said in a NBC4 interview.
The OUPD has successfully taken down two students found guilty of rape this year, but in the eyes of 2017 graduate Shane Bradshaw, a sophomore at OU, there is much room for improvement.
“My wish is for OU police department to get more involved. I would like to walk home from a party and be able to ask my campus police for a safe ride home and not be questioned. I would love more lighting around the older, freshman dorms. I would love for OUPD to find the people who did these crimes… but I think they have to step it up first,” Bradshaw said.
The OUPD does provide resources on their website, including a page dedicated to RAD (Rape Aggression Defense). “The RAD System is a comprehensive course for women that begins with awareness, prevention, risk reduction and avoidance while progressing on to the basics of hands-on defense training,” according to OUPD’s official website.
Female students all over OU’s campus have also figured out ways to try and keep themselves safe. “There is now a GroupMe specifically for women to ask for and offer a safe walk home to other women on campus,” Bradshaw said.
OU is one of the most popular colleges that Orange High School students attend, and these recent events may be hard for next years prospective students to ignore, potentially leading to a decline in their admissions. It’s important to note that this problem is not just at OU. No matter who or where you are, sexual assault is out there and could happen to anyone.