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Universities need to learn that ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away…
Let’s talk about the issue of sexual assault on university campuses.
Check out, for example, this story about Brown University, published yesterday in Bloomberg Business. Protesters said wrongly ending an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations because the accused student’s father was a university donor and trustee.
I don’t know anyone at Brown University but I believe the protesters because I know a young woman in Canada who faced a similar situation. She was sexually assaulted. (Incidentally, the same young man had also attacked at least three other women on campus). She complained to the university. They investigated and exonerated the young man. When she complained again, the university tried to forced her to apologize.
Sadly, this situation is now commonplace across North America. In fact, a new documentary film by Kirby Dick, The Hunting Ground, reveals that 100,000 rapes will occur on U.S. university campuses in the next year. 100,000! Dick believes campuses must make sexual assault a top priority and put money into stopping it. “You have to look at the statistics,” he said. “Only 2-8% of reported sexual assaults are false. So in most cases, when people come forward, they’re telling the truth.”
It strikes me that universities are now in the same situation corporations were some 30 years ago. They dodge and weave, they prevaricate and they do everything they can to try to avoid the awkward questions. But they aren’t going to be able to do that much longer.
I predict that lawsuits, angry alumni and enraged future donors will force them to start taking real action on this issue, soon. After all, ignoring a problem or trying to sweep it under the rug doesn’t make it go away.