Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Black women feel unsafe on campus

By Daniela Raymond

After finishing a long night of class and making your way back to the dorms to relax, safety should not be the first thing on your mind. Unfortunately, college campuses have become hot spots for criminal activity. One in five women and 6% of men will face sexual assault on college campuses. Staying alert and aware of your surroundings is something that minority women on college campuses are always concerned about. 

The movement that has brought about women’s safety on college campuses has often left out the experiences of Black women, and rarely addresses the complexities of gender and race as experienced at a predominately white institution. As a whole, many efforts to address sexual assault on campus have been scarce. This is even more true for Black undergraduate women, who are repeatedly faced with the pressure to endure these traumatic events and stay silent. 

SUNY Plattsburgh upholds Title IX stating on the schools website, “Title IX addresses how this institution must respond to reports of misconduct falling within that definition of sexual harassment, and mandates a grievance process that this institution must follow to comply with the law in these specific covered cases before issuing a disciplinary sanction against a person accused of sexual harassment.”

Cardinal Points has tried to reach out to the Title IX office for a personal statement over the last week, but have heard nothing back. 

On average, nationally one in five college women have experienced sexual assault. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the primary statistical agency of the Department of Justice reported,  “ for every one rape reported by an African American woman, 15 go unreported.” Black women have continuously been subject to violence without ample protection from institutions or the government. Dating back to chattel slavery into current times, Black women are put under horrific acts of sexual violence which have been amplified by White supremacy, navigating racist stereotypes that over sexualize them from a young age. 

Everyone deserves an education free from harm and hate. 

“Most nights as a black woman I don’t feel safe walking on or around campus especially knowing the racist history of the town.”  Jakira Barrett, a Sophomore and early childhood education major, said. 

College is a time to learn and grow, but if colleges do not take the step to keep Black women’s safety a priority they will always feel marginalized. The more that hate speech and violence are not punished the less it will be reported. This is why the college should be taking steps to listen to the minority women on this campus. 

While the college has taken some steps to make students feel safer, such as implementing Title IX training,  the Black experience is a unique one on this campus.

“With the numerous events on campus that have occurred, I have realized that I am not safe on this campus,” Kayla Lissade, a Senior chemistry major, said. “There is no reason why I should be scared to call for help because in the back of my head I am scared that I will be discriminated against because I am a Black woman.”

In 2019 the college participated in the University-wide Biennial SUNY Uniform Campus Climate survey, and they found that the 152 students identified as women and 10 students who identified as men reported that they were subject to verbal sexual harassment. This does not include the number of assaults that go unreported at the college. These numbers have unfortunately not declined and without the proper attention students voices may go unheard. 

At SUNY Plattsburgh, Title IX has been implemented to help students feel safer. “Ensuring that SUNY Plattsburgh is stopping, preventing and remedying gender discrimination, sexual harassment, domestic violence, dating violence and sexual assault in an immediate equitable manner.”

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