For students and parents, college drop-off day is heavy with excitement. Students anticipate what lies ahead. For parents, it’s usually bittersweet; the sadness of time gone too quickly mixes with the pride of raising a young adult ready to take on the world.
Imagine the thrill of driving a carload of freshman trappings to the dorm. Your 18-year-old daughter is taking in the energy of her new school. She sees other students equally excited to be on campus, and looks forward to expanding her horizon. Then the balloon of hope and excitement gets punctured by a large banner hanging on the front of a fraternity house. Banners like those below, indicating your daughter could be a target of campus sexual assault.
Some people see these signs and shrug them off as “boys will be boys.” Some parents look the other way, confident their daughter won’t find herself in that house with those men.
Don’t be one of those parents. Be the parent who holds the school accountable for the sexism expressed by its students. Press the administration to establish effective measures to prevent campus sexual assault. Part of that means zero tolerance for this sort of sexist behavior.
8 Responses to Make Your Daughter Safer on Campus
If you see signs like those above, DO SOMETHING!
1. Use your phone to take photographs.
Document the sign, the property, the address and anyone you see on the property who appears to be affiliated. This is necessary evidence for filing complaints with the school and any Greek organization that may be involved.
2. Contact the office of the Dean of Students immediately.
Ask to speak with the Dean or high-ranking administrator. Avoid leaving a message. Tell the person who answers the phone that you’re calling because you’re very upset about the signs, you’re concerned about what the school is doing to prevent campus sexual assault, and you’re not comfortable leaving your daughter in this environment. Be adamant that you speak with someone about this. Insist that it’s such a serious matter that you must talk to someone with authority before you unpack your daughter’s things. Mention whatever information is important to you, including: the amount you’re spending at the school, the number of acceptances your daughter had to choose from, other schools your daughter could have attended, the legal responsibility the school has under the Campus Save Act and Title IX, and how upsetting it is that young men on campus feel comfortable and safe sexually harassing female students.
3. Contact the Title IX coordinator.
File a formal complaint and express some of the concerns you shared with the Dean of Students. As part of Title IX, women are to be given a safe environment for education, which means one free from sexual harassment. Signs like the above make most women feel uncomfortable and create a hostile environment for them.
4. If the offender is a fraternity or other club, contact the Student Activities office.
Ask if they know about the signs and if the fraternity or club involved has a history of this kind of behavior. Ask them what the repercussions will be for the students and group involved. Tell them you expect this behavior to result in student suspensions and closure of the fraternity, as it is a threat to the safety of women.
5. If your son is planning to rush a fraternity, make one posting such a sign off-limits.
When more men become allies fighting violence against women, women become safer. Joining a fraternity known to sexually harass and objectify women sends the message that this behavior is tolerated. Support your son in standing up to the men who would harm his friends and sisters. Notify the national office of your decision.
6. Research the sororities your daughter is considering rushing.
Investigate which fraternities the sororities are closest to. Avoid any sorority that has a close relationship with the offending fraternity. Communicate this decision to the local and national leadership of the sorority.
7. Share the pictures on social media.
Colleges and universities have a history of hiding sexual assault and avoiding the bad publicity it brings. When this issue is exposed, it motivates administrators to create and implement effective prevention practices they can promote.
8. Hold the college or university accountable.
Make sure all your questions are answered and that the departments you contact follow up with you. They should be able to tell you about any investigation into the incident and repercussions resulting from their findings. Act like a consumer. You’re spending a considerable sum on education. Tell any university representative that you expect a full investigation and suspension of offending students, as well as closure of any responsible student group. The campus will not be safe for women as long as men harboring these attitudes are allowed to remain on campus.