Women and Work discusses sexual violence on college campuses

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Last month, twenty-three Columbia University and Barnard College students filed a federal complaint that alleges violations of Title IX, Title II and the Clery Act by the college.

For months now, students had been advocating for changes in the way administration handles sexual assault cases. These universities are not alone in facing criticism.

Elite schools like Brown University and Amherst College have also faced heavy criticism for violating Title IX mandates in their dealings with alleged victims of rape on campus.

April was Sexual Assault and Awareness Month. Queens College’s Women and Work program held a free public event to raise awareness of sexual violence and educate individuals about prevention on April 30.

“At QC, we are working on developing a new guide regarding the Title IX mandate and we will work in conjunction with experts to better educate everyone about it,” Cynthia W. Rountree, chief diversity officer and director of the office of compliance and diversity programs — a co-sponsor of the event — said.

The statistics surrounding campus rape and assault are astounding with three percent of college women report surviving rape or attempted rape during any given academic year, according to the One in Four organization.

Reacting to highly publicized rapes on college campuses, the White House released guidelines that increase pressure on universities to combat sexual assaults on April 28. The guidelines are a result of a task force President Obama formed earlier this year. Findings of the task force included the better implementation of the Clery Act and both Titles IX and II.

Title IX protects students from gender-based discrimination — including sexual assault — on campus. The Clery Act requires all colleges and universities to disclose information about crime on or near their campuses and Title II protects students from disability-based discrimination.

Carmella Marrone, executive director of Women and Work, discussed rape and sexual violence in its many forms including marital rape, date rape, sexual assault in the military, child sexual abuse, sexual assault in the LGBTQ community and on college campuses.

“We are all foot soldiers in a war on violence. We must step up, break the silence and advocate,” Marrone said.

Speakers included Grace Yoon, the executive director of the Korean American Family Service Center, sergeant and officer from QC Public Safety and a representative of the NYPD from the 107th precinct in Flushing.

The Public Safety representatives emphasized the importance of reporting a crime as often times rape and assault goes unreported. They went over the emergency exists and 27 blue phones that are located at various locations on campus. When a crime is reported, the victim is always given an order of protection on campus.

Marrone is a certified rape crisis counselor and agreed with others on the importance of reporting a crime and gathering as much evidence as one possibly can.

“To preserve evidence until it is collected, put socks on the victim’s hands and feet and get them help immediately,” Marrone said. “So many rape and assault cases go unreported because of a lack of evidence.”

Out of 100 cases, only 46 rapes are ever reported, according to Marrone.

Of the Korean population living in New York City, Queens is home to 67 percent. Yoon and her organization work closely with victims of rape and assault while understanding the cultural values that affect victims and families. Her organization also provides bilingual help for those how need it.

“Use the power that you didn’t have to get the help that you do need,” Marrone said.

Attendees were provided with a pamphlet listing statistics about sexual assault and its prevention, as well as resources and hotlines for victims.

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