Speaking as a recent transfer student who was sexually assaulted last semester, I wasn’t aware of the University of Georgia’s rampant rape culture — which is especially prevalent during the Red Zone.
The Red Zone is the period of time between the first day of classes and Thanksgiving where the most reported sexual assaults occur. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, more than 50% of college sexual assaults occur in either August, September, October or November.
The UGA chapter of Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity (URGE) is asking UGA to fully address and educate students on the Red Zone and for USG to reconsider their sexual misconduct policy.
When a student is the survivor of sexual assault, they can report it to UGA’s Equal Opportunity Office, which operates under the University System of Georgia Board of Regents Policy Manual and its sexual misconduct policy, which affects all of USG’s 26 public institutions.
In Section 6.7.1 of the sexual misconduct policy, USG uses the term “nonconsenual sexual contact” instead of rape or sexual assault, defining it as “any physical contact with another person of a sexual nature without the person’s consent.”
The Sexual Misconduct policy provides students with two problematic options in detail: either report it to law enforcement or resolve the issue informally.
Students may not have sufficient evidence, the financial means or feel comfortable enough to go to criminal court, and if the matter is resolved informally, the student can not appeal the resolution. For another alternative, USG links to the general student misconduct section, Policy 4.6.5, which warns against false complaints/statements and that confidentiality is not guaranteed. This may make students feel uncomfortable to come forward.
In 2018, The Red & Black covered how UGA’s Equal Opportunity Office processed a sexual misconduct case that occurred during the Red Zone.
After John was found guilty of sexually assaulting Kate, he was put on probation, and asked to write a five paper on how drugs and alcohol affect consent. Despite the “resolution,” Kate continues to appeal her sexual assault case to EOO, relentlessly.
The EOO, UGA admin and police usually shift the blame to substance abuse, instead of holding her perpetrator systematically responsible.
Other colleges have set an example in sexual assault prevention. In response to a 2016 national survey on sexual assault, Harvard University, Iowa State University and Tulane University implemented stricter sexual misconduct policies. USG must do the same.
Compared to other large schools, UGA has a low number of sexual assault reports; however, the university’s policy discourages survivors from coming forward.
When Duke University implemented a strict sexual misconduct policy, reports of sexual assault rose dramatically.
According to UGA Police Department’s released 2018 Crime Statistics, there were nine reports of public indecency, nine reports of sexual battery; eight reports of rape, one report of statutory rape and one report of sodomy. There weren’t any reports of attempted rape nor incest. However, due to the social stigma and the known lack of justice, who’s to say that every survivor reported?
Following the request of the author of this guest column, "sexual assault victim" has since been changed to "sexual assault survivor." The Red & Black regrets these errors.