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Accusations of Sexual Assault at Colleges, Garfield High, Bring Issue to the National Forefront

After the rape of a female student, people carry mattresses around campus in order to raise awareness about rape culture and assault.

After the rape of a female student, people carry mattresses around campus in order to raise awareness about rape culture and assault.

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Creative Commons

After the rape of a female student, people carry mattresses around campus in order to raise awareness about rape culture and assault.

Jared Flury, Reporter

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Students on college campuses have increasingly been speaking out about the risks of sexual assault because of national probes into the ways that universities respond to victims’ allegations.

The “Seattle Times” reported last May that 55 leading and respectable schools, including Washington State University (WSU), have mishandled sexual assault claims.

“WSU failed to adequately respond to sexual-harassment reports, including incidents of sexual assault,” reports the “Times.” “The University of Washington is not being investigated, but the same database shows 13 forcible sex offenses on the UW’s Seattle campus in 2012, 31 in 2011 and seven in 2010.”

A Garfield High School incident in Seattle also brought the incident to the forefront. In 2012, a female student alleged she was raped while on an overnight field trip. Police concluded there wasn’t sufficient evidence to press charges. However, in response to a public outcry, Garfield‘s principal, Ted Howard, canceled all overnight field trips beginning this year. The family of the girl sued the district for failing to adequately supervise the trip, and the district settled for $700,000.

One way KR deals with the issue of sexual assault is through health classes.

“I think we carefully talk about warning signs and relationships and what a healthy relationship looks like,” said Jeff Shumake, health teacher.

According to, five percent of women experienced rape or attempted rape in just the past year on college campuses. Despite its widespread impact, few students think or talk about it. Four percent of 5,000 men surveyed reportedly admitted to having intercourse against their will, according to

“I feel like it is not a topic that people want to talk about,” said Cassandra Roy, senior. “So we don’t see it in the news or anything. It is being somewhat talked about but not as much as it should be.”

Stephanie Sewell, senior, has suggestions for how high schools might address the issue.

“Assembly speeches can be prepared and we can talk about it in advisory,” she said.

Tyler J. Masterson, junior, said so far, it’s a college issue.

“I feel like sexual assault is more of an issue in college, so they usually try harder to prevent it, whereas in high school, it isn’t as big of an issue between students.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), risk factors for sexual assault include drug and alcohol use, hyper masculinity (when males are victimized), tolerance of abuse in relationships/friendships, tolerance of societal abuse, and many other physical and mental disabilities.

“I don’t think I have ever been at risk,” said Marina Raykova, junior. “I don’t think my friends have ever been at risk, but I have heard people around school have been at risk, and it isn’t a good situation to be involved in. I think people need to be more informed about the things going on around them and the people being sexually assaulted.”

Shumake said that it all comes down to best intentions.

“I love Brad Henning’s definition, ‘Choosing the highest good for the other person.’ If we adhere to that, we wouldn’t see sexual harassment,” Shumake said.

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