RAINN Is Stepping In To Help Colleges Create The Best Sexual Assault Prevention Program Possible

by Alexia LaFata

College campuses have been notoriously bad at creating sexual assault prevention programs for their students. Recently, one college told students to masturbate as a way to prevent sexual assault, which, needless to say, is a pretty batsh*t solution. Now, RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) is stepping in. Prevention Navigator, RAINN's new online tool, is way for colleges to select the best sexual assault prevention program that fits the needs of their student body.

With Prevention Navigator, students and college administrators can provide feedback to each other about their experiences with specific sexual assault prevention programs. As a user, you can browse through the specifics of various prevention programs and check out reviews given by students and administrators to see how effective that program is for that respective college. You can also look more in-depth at your own college's prevention program or see if any other ones would be a better fit.

It's important that sexual assault prevention programs capture a 360-degree view of sexual assault, not just the perspective of college administrators. So, to create this tool, RAINN gathered input from various perspectives, including students, researchers, college administrators, prevention professionals, and program developers. To see the tool in action, check out the Prevention Navigator homepage. If you're a student who has recently gone through a prevention program, feel free to post a review (especially if you go to the school that just told you to masturbate).

"With 11.2 percent of graduate and undergraduate students experiencing rape or sexual assault, university-wide prevention programs play an essential role in campus safety," RAINN's campus programs manager, Nancy Amestoy, says in a press release. "This new tool allows students and administrators across the country to join an important conversation about effective prevention strategies."

Given Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos' recent damaging suggestion that both survivors and those accused of sexual assault suffer equally, tools like these are especially important. Last week, on Thursday, Sept. 7, DeVos gave a speech broadcasted on Facebook Live about her plans to change the government's Title IX work when it comes to sexual violence. DeVos said that although the Obama administration raised the importance of the issue of campus sexual assault, the actual rules that the administration put in place are a "failed system." According to DeVos, these rules didn't just fail survivors of sexual assault, but also those accused of sexual assault.

She said,

The truth is that the system established by the prior administration has failed too many students. Survivors, victims of a lack of due process and campus administrators have all told me that the current approach does a disservice to everyone involved.

The implication that survivors of sexual assault and those accused of sexual assault suffer the same amount under any circumstances is simply incorrect. Women aren't just parading around college campuses falsely accusing people of raping them. "False reporting" is nowhere near the widespread problem that DeVos thinks it is. Only between 2 and 10 percent of accusations are false, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. And of the people who are actually found responsible for sexual assault, less than one-third are expelled from campus, according to HuffPo's analysis of data from nearly 36 colleges and universities.

Meanwhile, survivors of sexual assault experience a lifetime's worth of neurobiological and psychological trauma and obstacles that make it impossible for them to report, such as having trouble remembering pieces of what happened and fearing backlash and being told they're lying. The majority of sexual assault cases (63 percent) are not reported to the police, which means very few cases will result in legitimate punishment against actual perpetrators.

Our culture of excusing rapists' behavior and ignoring victims' needs reinforces the need for organizations like RAINN to come forward with comprehensive solutions to help solve the problem of sexual violence on college campuses. Prevention Navigator is absolutely a step in the right direction.