A petition is now circulating on Change.org to urge Secretary Arne Duncan and the U.S. Department of Education to “enforce students’ civil right to freedom from sexual violence.” On Monday, July 15th, at 11 am, students will gather at the Department of Education in Washington DC to deliver it.
For far too long, colleges and universities across the nation have failed to abide by their responsibilities to combat the sexual violence that is prevalent on their campuses. The statistics are shocking, with an estimated one in four women being raped by the time she graduates college. With numbers that high, this is an issue that is impossible to continue to ignore. The silencing of victims and survivors of sexual assault and/or gendered violence on college campuses is systemic and institutionalized: as the petition description explains, the survivors who have decided to publicly share their stories in the past year alone, “have been silenced or ignored by their campus administrations, and most have been forced to drop classes, clubs, sports, teams, jobs — or abandon their educations entirely — in order to ensure their basic safety.”
The Department of Education is responsible for enforcing laws relevant to sexual assault, and, in particular, Title IX. In many ways, they have failed to take proper action against the widespread violence against women happening at universities across the nation. Students are rising up to show that sexual violence will not be tolerated on their campuses – and that the Department of Education has a responsibility to make sure the epidemic ends.