“If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”
This was the tweet heard ‘round the world.
On the afternoon of Oct. 15, 2017, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted this to her followers. In a matter of hours, this tweet sparked a global social movement that is still impacting us today — more than a year and a half later.
In recent months, we’ve written about how the #MeToo movement has given rise to more false allegations, celebrity scandals, and it’s even affected Supreme Court Justices. While the movement has brought about positive social change in many ways, we believe it’s important not to forget about the importance of presumption of innocence and due process in a post-#MeToo world.
In light of this movement, we wanted to ask students what they thought about how the #MeToo movement has changed society in our fourth Scholarship Essay Content.
The response we received was overwhelming. Nearly 60 students from colleges and universities all around the country submitted their essays to this tough question. While we had to choose only one winner of the scholarship prize, we also wanted to share a handful of the best responses we received from other applicants.
Continue reading to see what students had to say:
Essay question: How has the #MeToo movement changed how schools deal with and talk about sexual assault on campus, and what approach in your view would best balance a victim’s right to justice with an accused’s right to due process and fairness?
Shiza Arshad, Georgetown University (scholarship winner):
“To further ensure the safety of all students involved, college administrations need to take certain steps when a student reports an instance of sexual assault. Universities must institute a fair and just process. The first step in these cases is to establish a timeline for the investigation that is followed strictly. Presently, too many claims are not even investigated.
The second step is to institute a no contact order between the parties until an investigation can be conducted and a hearing can be held. Throughout these proceedings, students should be assigned representatives which, ideally, will be in the form of legal counsel. These representatives will have the opportunity to cross examine witnesses, including the victim and the accused.
Lastly, if the accused is found to be responsible, it should be up to the university board to administer the proper punishment, with input from a Title IX coordinator. Local authorities should also be contacted in concurrence with an internal university hearing.”
Bianca Juntunen, Sickles High School
“If I were sexually assaulted on my school campus, I would not know what to do or, much worse, who to talk to. This scares me to no end because if I am feeling this way, a female who has no personal experience with sexual harassment, I fear how those females who have experienced sexual harassment feel. I believe that my school needs to take lessons from the #MeToo movement to ensure that no sexual harassment takes place on campus, and… that there is a trusted adult that the victim can talk to.”
Patrick Matulich, New York Institute of Technology
“Unfortunately, many stories of sexual assault transpire on college campuses. Despite their occurrence, many schools have declined to address the needs of victims or investigate the situations to provide closure. This negligence transcends from lack of empathy from the administration, fear of public exposure to the institution, and a lack of properly trained personnel. Moreover, there is often a lapse in support for victims and the accused.
While sexual assault is not limited to female victims, the overwhelming majority of cases reported occur against females… Having the option to approach a female representative with a sexual assault allegation is a necessary step to reaching a solution. Of course, gender equality in leadership does not completely solve the issue. Gender alone does not qualify a person to appropriately handle these sensitive situations in an empathetic and non-bias manner. Victims and falsely accused perpetrators can experience prolonged and unnecessary emotional trauma if the case is not handled properly. Thus, dedicated staff that is extensively trained on the sensitivity of the material and investigative methods must be employed at all times for high-risk facilities, such as universities. Furthermore, all personnel at the institution should be mandated to complete basic training on confidentiality and responsible reporting of any potential sexual assault case.”
Rina Guerra, Texas A&M University
“According to the United States Constitution, American citizens shall not “be deprived of life, liberty, or property” without paying mind to due process of the law. It is a foundation of our legal system and the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution pledges every individual innocent until proven guilty… However, if everyone is supposed to be treated equally under the law, communities must be open to the possibility that sometimes an accusing woman (or man) might be exaggerating. S/he might be covering up her/his own misbehavior by deflecting attention to the other party.”
“The corridor to justice has now been paved and we should restore and demand dignity and due process and fairness for everyone — women and men.”
Sophia Tragesser, University of St. Thomas
“A victim should firstly be respected and listened too. Emotional support and opportunities for counseling are critical in the lives of survivors. However, the #MeToo movement opened the world to extra-legal battles which disregard any rules or protections for the accused.
For the movement to build up a society that treasures women, believes them, but maintains due process and justice, the movement must center itself upon educating and helping women seek legal means of confrontation, allowing the accused to the same protections which all are entitled to in the American courts.”
Jacie Kuniyoshi, Saint Martin’s University
“This movement should be one that is talked about in schools because it is the reality of society today. Women still have to fight to gain equal rights from men, as well as respect. Feminist movements are taught in most United States history classes, and now the #Metoo movement is more current example. Usually when high schools or even middle/intermediate schools talk about sexual assault, they just tell kids not to do it and do not really give that much information on how it can seriously affect someone’s life. Colleges discuss it more because sexual assault tends to be a little more prevalent on campuses around the nation. However, when discussing this topic, not all women like to speak out as victims. Some women like to think of themselves as survivors who went through a tough time, but eventually made it out. Sexual assault is a difficult topic to talk about it, but it needs to be. The movement is all about raising awareness and showing empathy to those who may have experienced this type of abuse. Schools need to discuss it further in classes so that these future generations are not walking blindly and oblivious into society without being aware of the dangers that surround them.”
Autumn Cooper, Stevens-Henager College
“I feel a better approach to dealing with sexual harassment or assaults on campus would be to make them public after the rights of both parties have been respected. It is well known that social media and news coverage have an impact on the perception of both the victim and accused, in any case of law. Making these cases so public, immediately upon them happening, clearly impact the views of those involved. It may also scare a victim into recanting due to pressure or mixed emotions from the publicity. The publicity could also cause the views of the accused to be biased or be sought out in retaliation before a trial can take place. By keeping the assault or harassment between the two parties and officials, a fair trial can be delivered. Once an actual balance of both justice and due process have both been served, it is then that it should be made public to spread awareness on these situations and to tell victims stories. If a more careful approach is taken, both awareness and justice can take place.”
“Once they have dealt justice and due process, the assault or harassment should be made public. This way not only will it respect both parties rights, but also show that they fully support their students who have been victims to such crimes.”
Isabella Guler, Arizona State University
“#METOO made many changes in the way that teachers discuss sexual assault in the classroom, as well as impacts the way we listen to one another before drawing conclusions. Rather than immediately attacking alleged victims of their morality, there has been a shift in the way that we listen to victims. It has given the ability to those who feel voiceless to speak out about unspeakable experiences, and has saved many from suffering in silence.
While it is easy to say that we shall not blame someone without evidence, this movement has also brought an epidemic of accusatory behavior of alleged criminals, who may in fact be innocent. If we focus too much on the outcomes that we want, we will diminish the rectitude of what this movement is about, which will take us in the opposite direction of the improvement that we need to see.”
Jessica Boehmer, Bellevue University
“Creating dialogue where both sides feel comfortable to voice their opinion would be a good place to start. Police investigations should be the first route for dealing with the issue, not college committees and automatic suspensions. I feel each school should adopt the same policy so there is no confusion on what is fair on campus. College is the first step to developing the skills you need for real life and it should set the framework for what is expected out in the world.”
Jazlynn Williams, University of Illinois at Chicago
“Not every student wants to report their assault, which is fine. It is their right to speak to someone about what they experienced, but the university should be more keen on encouraging students to report their assault. If more reports are made, then it could give the students a sense of control and empowerment. Even if the student cannot get justice through the police they would have given themselves justice by telling their story. I think that campus conversations should be held to talk about what it is like for a victim to stand their ground and speak up. Making the university more of an open and safe space could provide victims the encouragement they need to fight for justice instead of keeping their story hidden because they felt that the university is not supportive enough.”
Nikunj Soni, University of Texas
“Students must understand and feel comfortable with the process by which their complaints will be handled, understanding that all parties will be treated fairly throughout the process…”
“To start, it is imperative for colleges to be public about the changes in their approach to accusations of sexual misconduct. Students must understand and feel comfortable with the process by which their complaints will be handled, understanding that all parties will be treated fairly throughout the process… Next, establishing a sexual misconduct contact person who is fully independent of university leadership is necessary. This person must have heightened protection from any backlash from university leaders, donors, or other faculty members. Being insulated from a desire to make the university ‘look good’ will allow this person to treat all accusations fairly and professionally.
Furthermore, a method should be established by which the victim, the accused, and any witnesses can provide recorded, unalterable testimony (an idea originally conceived by University of Houston Law Center graduate Divya Kannegenti, who suggested using blockchain to facilitate this process.)…
Finally, the victim, the accused, and witnesses should be discouraged from being overly public with the investigative proceedings until they are over. This prevents the public from interfering with the livelihoods of two students who, until a verdict is made, are still active members of the college community.”
Madison Dorethy, Dallas Baptist University
“There are cases (not many) that have shown that the woman was lying just to get money or attention from the public. In order to avoid this mess, having a trial and treating the fairness equal will make sure that what’s being said is the hard truth.”
Anique Holloman, Southern New Hampshire University
“The victim should have the right to complete confidentiality, access to counseling sessions or support groups as well as an action plan. With an action plan, there shall be a precise explanation of the process of filing a sexual assault report… For the accused, assure them that there has been a report filed against them about sexual assault, alert them of the process and actions on behalf of the school should the accusation determine you guilty. Allow them the same process as the victim, access to counseling, support groups or time away. Allow the accused to share their story.”
Mary Stone, Southern New Hampshire University
“While university programs such as support groups, counselors and classes, are a great start to changing students’ attitudes towards sexual assault, there is still one topic that has not been addressed successfully: male sexual abuse victims. ‘For some male victims of sexual assault and abuse, #MeToo can feel more like #WhatAboutMe?’ states The New York Post in their article about well-known men who have suffered sexual abuse (New York Post, 2018). If this is the attitude of popular and respected men, how much more will this be true of male college students? Even as they celebrate the victories their female peers have had over their attackers, these men feel a twinge of pain, knowing that their stories are being ignored. This is unacceptable. Regardless of gender, all sexual assault victims must be acknowledged, helped, and supported. Because of the attention universities command, they must be leaders in remedying this situation. Once they do, other industries will do the same and men will be free to say without fear of backlash, ‘Me too.’
In a legitimate assault case, the victim feels shame for what has been done to him, but in cases where the accuser’s claims are false, the individual being charged is humiliated. In a moment, the accused is ostracized, set apart as a ‘dangerous person.’ This is why privacy is of the utmost importance in sexual abuse cases. While Americans must be aware of sexual assault, and victims should not feel afraid to reveal their stories, cases that are currently being investigated must be kept private to limit the shame of the accuser, the accused and their families.”
“[Schools] must continue to provide preventative training and support for victims of both genders on their campuses. Most importantly though, they need to ensure that sexual assault cases are handled quickly and in a manner that respects all parties. In order for justice to prevail, universities will have to set the standard for how sexual assault cases should be treated.”
Tamira Thomas, Southern New Hampshire University
“I believe the best way for schools to protect its students is through education and security. I also think that federal laws should be [put] in place that creates a safer environment on all colleges across the country. The education component would require students to take a class every semester that focuses on topics like sexual and mental health. It sounds mundane but I believe continued awareness is very important. The security component would require the option for students to have police escort them to their dorm buildings and another option is to have resident advisors been on alert for suspicious behavior. The federal laws would come in to support students as well so that school officials and administrators can not try to cover up evidence and/or tell lies. This would also protect the accused because substantial evidence would need to be brought forth for the accused to even be publicly outed.”
Caitlin Seiler, Mount St. Joseph University
“At my university specifically, there is a mandatory assembly that all incoming students have to attend as a part of their orientation before school starts. They hire an outside company to come in and talk about sexual assault, consent, and resources on and off of campus for victims. This information helps to equip students with the information that they would need in the event that they do need it. Additionally, I believe that the #MeToo movement has allowed college campuses to view sexual assault in a more serious light because they have been able to see just how many people have been affected by it. The movement has shed a light on a subject that has not always been widely discussed on college campuses in the past.
In my opinion, the best approach to balance a victim’s right to justice with an accused’s right to due process and fairness is to let the legal matters and punishment be dealt with by an outside party that the school is responsible for directing students to… By utilizing an outside party, there is less of a risk of a biased decision, which will help to balance a victim’s right to justice with an accused’s right to due process and fairness.”
Whitley Dixon, Southern New Hampshire University
“Too many people hide their abuse stories. Deep down this slowly wears on the person mind and body. Also hiding the abuse for such a long period of time can help the abuser get away with the crime they have committed. That is why it is important for schools across the US to advocate for these children. The kids need to understand its not their fault. The sooner the abuse is known the better the chance the justice system has in putting the abuser away.”
Homer La Rue, Georgetown University
“There are perhaps two primary implications of the movement on campus. First, #MeToo has fundamentally expanded the popular understanding of what constitutes sexual misconduct. For example, a number of schools recently adopted affirmative consent policies, dubbed ‘yes means yes,’ to combat the commonly held notion that the absence of a ‘no’ constituted consent to sexual activity. Secondly, the consequences for alleged perpetrators on campus (as in broader society) are increasingly extrajudicial. At one school, survivors of sexual assault purportedly published a public Google Doc with the names of the accused.
The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments provide that no person shall be deprived of ‘life, liberty or property, without due process of law.’ Thus, a formal and fair hearing for the accuser, non-biased fact-finding, and a good-faith pursuit of truth are not only the manner by which victims find justice, they are exactly the mechanisms by which the accused receives due process.”
Joshua Potratz, Metropolitan Community College
“Betsy DeVos has been pushing for rules that would give colleges more flexibility in how they handle their sexual assault cases and more rights to the accused (Watanabe). Although more rights to the accused is a good cause to stand for, giving colleges more power in what sexual assault cases they pursue can “return schools to a time where rape, assault and harassment were swept under the rug” (Watanabe)… What has been lacking in terms of solutions has been preventative measures, not reactionary punishment measures.”
“The best way to solve a social issue is to educate, but we need to know how to properly educate and prevent sexual assaults first.”
Alondra Young, Hampton University
“The #MeToo movement has changed how schools deal with sexual assault on campus because students are becoming more conscious on how to handle the problem if it should ever happen to them. Teachers must become more comfortable talking about this topic because it is happening so frequently.”
Lao Shay, Central Texas College
“When seeking justice for victims of sexual assault, it is important to ensure that the accused get a fair trial and ensure that justice is served to the victim. More often, the interests of the two parties do conflict, giving rise to the question of how a balance can be attained for the two extremes. The best method that can be adopted to ensure fairness is ensuring that both the accused and the victim are well-informed. The two parties should be well-informed of their rights; they should be informed of court processes and procedures and how their actions might boost or impede delivery of justice. Both parties should be given adequate time to present their cases and table their evidence to ensure that the verdict delivered is fair.”
Michelle Leigh, University of Maryland
“In my opinion the #MeToo movement did not elicit a significant change to the way schools talk about or handle sexual assault on campus. The changes we’ve seen result from the Title IX changes in 2011.”
“#MeToo is not designed to protect the accused’s rights and therefore, by design, does not provide equality for both sides. The #MeToo movement is the radical pendulum swing created from years of systematic injustice done to victims by investigators and college administrators. As a result, universities cannot use it as a tool to enact any significant change. In my opinion, universities should not use #MeToo to develop or define their policies. Instead college should build upon the repealed 2011 Title IX guidelines. Though the guidelines are not required by law, everyone gains from the continuation of preventative training requirements, maintaining a proper-sized staff of victim advocates, having a clear standard for defining sexual assault or harassment, and safe and transparent reporting procedures. Also, colleges and students benefit from shifting from the preponderance of evidence standard, a standard primarily used in civil or tort cases, to a standard more befitting of these allegations…
Through cultural and systemic changes, like the Title IX guidelines, we will see the most dramatic improvement to students’ lives and safety the lives across the country.”
Nicole Harris, Whitworth University
“#MeToo movement made it okay to be a victim, rather than feel ashamed. What changed was what was starting to happen outside of the classroom, and that was students starting clubs, making friends, and sharing stories. There is so much power in sharing your story. You are the only one who has it, so it is up to you to decide if you want to make it known.
In my own experience, sexual assault is still something that most schools don’t want to talk about… The #MeToo movement made it acceptable to speak up, so now we need to let that propel us into being able to take action.”
Priscila Galev, Loma Linda University
“Victim’s must go through the proper channels to persecute their attackers, and in the same way, attackers have their right to due process. Obviously, it can be difficult for victims to go through the right channels due to emotional distress, but trying to work around the system is wrong and unjust. I believe victims should stay the course, and if their attackers are found guilty, then justice will be served according to the written law. Understandably, it is a difficult process, but I believe the #MeToo movement has brought these difficulties into the light.”
Elizabeth Morris, Liberty University
“The necessary approach to balancing a victim’s right to justice with an accused’s right to due process and fairness is to return to constitutional rule of law and presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Universities need to teach students to discern and rely on objective fact more than subjective feeling. Take the victim’s statement and move forward with gathering evidence in a thorough and timely manner. Don’t leave either side hanging, but don’t punish the accused until evidence has been proven in court.”
Jessica Asay, University of Denver
“Many campuses have been called to reevaluate policies and procedures concerning sexual assault. I believe that the extensiveness of this movement helped to propel and demand changes in universities, especially in acknowledging either a lack of resources for victims or in preventative measures. The virality of the movement, in essence, forced campuses to update their procedures and previous passivity on this issue. In many instances, I believe that campuses recognized how they had often been complicit in accusations in the past, and committed to change, not only for the reputation of the school, but for the concern of students. On my own campus, the university highlights resources for victims of sexual violence, such as discussion tables, counseling availabilities, and an increased presence of campus security.”
Lindsay Zavislak, West Chester University
“Sexual violence was not limited to drunk girls on college campuses dressing provocatively. It became apparent that everyone knew someone who had experienced sexual violence in their life, regardless of their lifestyle, gender, or socioeconomic status.
College campuses are taking allegations more seriously and providing students with more resources to deal with the aftermath of abuse, such as therapy. The general attitude towards sexual violence on college campuses has shifted from ‘She asked for it’ to ‘We believe you.’”
Maranda Kurt, Carroll University
“I believe the movement has pushed college campuses to protect their students better. At my own campus, there are seminars, courses, and lectures about sexual assault consistently available to attend. Just last week, every female on campus received a sexual assault survey to help catalog how big of an issue it is on our campus… I also feel the movement has pushed campuses to show their students that they are allies in the entire situation. All anyone wants to do is help, but without students reporting incidents, no help can be given. Colleges have developed counseling programs and anonymous phone lines to provide aid to students who are too afraid to come forward. They also have created support groups to show victims that they are not alone and it is not their fault. The biggest change to colleges has been the attitude toward sexual assault.”
“Colleges are combating these sexist views with lessons on consent. No means no and just because a person does not specifically say no, that still does not mean they have given consent. If a person cannot communicate verbally or is clearly intoxicated, they are not able to give consent.”
Roman Goff, University of Texas at Arlington
“While I do believe that no one should be punished without a significant amount of evidence, I also don’t believe that a victim should be hushed simply because they don’t have a high-definition recording of what happened in a bedroom or in the middle of a street at 11 P.M. one night… Every case is different and therefore must be treated differently; there is no such thing as a cookie-cutter method to handling incidences where a supposed victim is accusing a supposed sex offender of sexual harassment.”
Ashlon Delasbour, Hampton University
“The #MeToo movement has forced schools to face sexual harassment amongst their students. Schools have changed the way they deal with sexual assault by teaching students and faculty how to recognize sexism, bullying and harassment.
For example, colleges have implemented a no alcohol and no sex policy in order to minimize the behavior that can lead to sexual assault. Institutions have increased the number of security patrolling across campus, held several campus wide meetings and seminars about consensual sex, initiating bystander intervention programs, held sessions about drinking and knowing your limits. There are some universities who have equipped the school nurses with proper sexual assault training, offering counseling and survivor support programs.
There are several ways for victims to get justice and the accused to have a fair right to due process. One example to prevent victim blaming is to keep the victim’s name anonymous, this policy will allow the victim to quietly and privately control their case. However, it is only fair to allow the same privacy to the accused…”
Sarah Broin, Metropolitan State University
“The #MeToo movement has changed the landscape of campus administration’s responsibilities in irreversible ways. It has forced campuses to educate students and staff about healthy relationships and avoiding violence. I know at my school… I have to attend a virtual training each year. The training covers ways to be safe on campus, how to prevent violence and what to do if you find yourself in a bad situation.
I think it’s important to listen to the victim without making judgements; facts and proof speak volumes. I also think believability needs to be analyzed to protect both the victim, and the accused.”
Tawny Aguayo, University of Kansas
“Accountability is the major change that the #MeToo movement has brought to college campuses. The courage of the victims to vocalize their experiences involving sexual assault has compelled colleges’ leadership entities to take tangible action towards not only assisting victims, but also enforcing safety measures to deter sexual assault before it happens. From security protocols, such as additional lighting, to creating on-campus medical environments where victims can seek assistance, the #MeToo movement has forced colleges to accept responsibility for the actions that occur on their premises.”
Danae Fowler, Allegheny College
“#MeToo has done nothing to change the way colleges deal with sexual assault. The #MeToo movement has only affected the awareness of the frequency of sexual assault cases, not how a school handles cases.
In most sexual assault cases, many people are quick to justify the accused, giving them the benefit of the doubt. But if the accused has a right to this respect, then we must ensure that the victim is given that same courtesy. Right of due process and justice go hand-in-hand.”
George Gifford, University of Houston
“The tone on campus of consent and rape when I entered university and when I left it seemed to change dramatically. In the dorms, halls, houses, and parties, assault awareness sometimes felt like a top-down initiative. It felt like something the university told us about, with a stat or a number that we kind of understood, but most felt like it happened elsewhere, to other people, and to different schools. With the radical shift of #MeToo (and, to be honest, the proximity of Waco to Austin and the horrors happening there), the value of consent and respect felt more and more like a collective initiative of passionate young men and women dedicated, together, in providing a safer space for all people.
Universities need to set an example to our students by being diligent with sexual assault allegations, while also setting the standard of waiting to deliver their own justice until adequate legal findings and decisions have come to light. Vindictive justice should not lie in the hands of the court of public opinion, nor universities, nor anyone else. Justice alone should lie in the hands of our justice system. Broken as it might be, it’s still our most consistent and accurate way to properly allocate justice. But again, this isn’t easy. Universities need to iterate the value of innocence until proven guilty despite transgressions so long neglected. It’s complicated, but the alternative is an absolute deterioration of our rule of law and our cherished due process.”
“We need to hear and understand potential victims, without harassment or shame, but an unequivocable #IBelieveHer simply cannot be our standard.”
Yara Nairwood, Gwinnett Technical College
“The only way to fix an issue is for both sides to come together and offer each other a space to speak their truth and then try to fix the problem in an amicable fashion… The best way in my opinion to balance the fairness between a victim and the accused is evidence. Hardcore strong evidence, and the willingness to hear both sides, no judge nor jury should have preconceived notions of who they think is telling the truth until the evidence has been presented.”
Leasha West, University of Notre Dame
“In my shameless opinion, there must be a confidential standardized reporting mechanism where sexually related claims are treated seriously and handled promptly. Next, there should be a thoroughly outlined operating procedures that eliminates all biases and ensures that protections are in place for all parties. This includes removing all barriers to discovering the facts, treating all parties with fairness as entitled under the law and allowing due process to uncover the truth. The most important piece that is missing in all of these claims is that the identities of all parties should and must be absolutely sealed! No exceptions. This means no media coverage, no lawyers appearing on the news, no spokesperson from the school making public statements, etc… There must be checks and balances to approach these situations without rushed conclusions or interference by the schools.
These situations are a matter of the law, not a matter of education. Leave this to the proper authorities as too many innocent lives have been unnecessarily disrupted. Schools should not be allowed to have any involvement, opinion or influence in any outcome. Let justice prevail via the Courts.”
Samantha Ramirez, Texas A&M University
“Campuses must take every allegation seriously and fully investigate all cases. However, there must not be any bias towards any one side. It is important to give the accused the benefit of the doubt in terms of fairness. In addition, I believe the best way to obtain the utmost truth is to cross examine the accused and victim. It may be a bit ruthless but it is an effective method.”
Ava Miller, Loyola University Chicago
“It has been no secret for years that party culture in schools has in some ways been a catalyst for sexual assault crimes. Some schools take pride in being a top party school in the country which, in this day and age, may not be something that a school should take pride in. Party culture in schools has come under the microscope as of late on how safe it really is and what measures should be taken to prevent things from going too far. As the #MeToo movement has uncovered, victims have felt silenced by those around them and the culture of America itself. Whether the administration of colleges agrees with the ideology of the movement or not, they must work now to prove to potential students that their campus is safe and measures of justice will be taken if anything were to happen on their campus.”
Delia Bothe, University of California San Diego
“After a mass movement like #MeToo, schools cannot let this stand anymore and must dedicate more resources to preventing sexual assault on campus. Educating students and faculty is a key component in prevention. Schools cannot be afraid to talk about what is happening and identifying to students that there are steps they can take towards preventing a potential sexual assault as a bystander… Schools take sexual assault issues a lot more seriously now and there are more resources available for victims to get the help they need.”
“Schools need to provide clear and consistent rules and processes for reporting a sexual assault, investigating a sexual assault, and prosecuting a sexual assault should be clearly outlined.”
Laura Hairston, Hampton University
“The #MeToo movement has made drastic changes for people who are afraid of speaking up about being sexually harassed. It has not only built a safe platform for students on college campuses, but it’s also helped students who feel like they’re alone… I believe lie detector test should be implemented to hold each party accountable. In some cases the victims are lying and so are the accusers.”
Meaghan O’Brien, University of Massachusetts – Lowell
“Personally, I have seen an enormous change in the way that schools and universities deal with and talk about sexual assault on campus. When I was going through grade school, it was almost considered to be shameful for a woman to discuss any kind of assault that had been made against her… believe that campuses now need to separate the victim from the accused, file a police report, perform an investigation, and ensure the safety of all. When the fair investigation is completed, proper action should take place to ensure the separation of the victim and the accused to prevent further damage to either party.”
Conor Forgey, Valencia College
“Schools are increasing their means of promoting awareness, often requiring incoming students to complete introductory courses focused on sexual assault and what they can do to stop it. These courses teach students about how to gain consent — or when you can’t give consent — and lessons on how to report sexual assault, as well as overhauling the consequences of assault and general sexual misconduct. In addition to that, the schools are installing new systems around campus to reduce the rate of incidence, such as phone stations with built-in cameras that, at the press of a button, will immediately call the campus police station and begin recording everything that happens around the booth.
On the micro scale, most balanced solution to the problem is encouraging victims to report their cases to the proper authorities as soon as possible. Sending the victims through the proper channels and creating a safe space for them to express their situation while assuring asylum from their assailant is important.”
Estefania Aguilar, University of Utah
“Both the accuser and the victim deserve due process. I think victims need to feel safe to reveal their trauma to get the appropriate care that they need. Schools and campus police need to take every accusation seriously. Victims cannot be made out to be dramatic or made to feel that the harassment experience was their fault. Additionally, those accused cannot be prosecuted by other students and media without the gathering of evidence and without the opportunity for counsel. I believe that the names and identities of the accused should be held to the highest privacy standards until the individual can be proven guilty or innocent. Much like cases involving minors, I would like for similar legislation to be passed that protects the identity of those accused. I believe this would prevent those who are falsely accused of being victims themselves.”
Zenaida Chavez, Loyola University Chicago
“In the past there were many allegations towards universities, mainly about how the universities have victims of sexual harassment but rather than the school addressing the issue, the issue was simply covered up. With schools covering up these stories this caused a greater risk for victimization among college students. Nowadays, we tend to see schools educating students before they step foot onto campus about what to do in a situation that may involve sexual violence.”
Kristina Yin, Santa Clara University
“With the movement comes the potential of overly quick reactions and unwarranted outside influences that can corrupt justice. Therefore, I am of the belief that all agents in a sexual assault case, both in and out of campus, deserve privacy and through investigations by impartial third parties. Schools should adopt policies that allow both the accuser and accused to be heard without the investigation being affected by unwarranted outside scrutiny. Colleges should, therefore, make every effort to streamline a system for anonymous reporting and for quietly investigating reports. Both the accuser and the accused should be protected until the truth of the matter is found.”
“In the wake of the #MeToo movement, it is necessary to remember the distinction between the right to be heard and the right to be believed.”
Rose Bernaba, University of California San Diego
“The #Metoo movement has helped students to know that they are not alone and that it is ok to share with trusted adults and loved ones in order to get the help that they need. The #MeToo movement has also brought light to this issue and has given schools the opportunity to address the problem that so many young adults face today. Schools now inform students of what sexual assault means and how harmful it is to the victim, students are taught how to avoid situations where they could be a subject for sexual assault and how to get out of that position should you be in one. Schools also offer professional counselors in order to guide and support victims through the healing processes.”
Riley Roshong, University of Maryland
“Just like how the opponents of the #MeToo movement are basing their concerns on unjustified and impractical fears, those who oppose of trans rights do the same. As such, I believe in a legal approach which empowers the victims of sexual assault and harassment. Women have historically been completely unable to defend themselves when they are victims of these types of crimes. This can only be resolved by sending a strong message of intolerance to those who would otherwise seek to take advantage of others.”