Is dating violence a problem on college campuses

15 Oct

Although relationship violence is also a component of the revised Violence Against Women Act and the related public policy initiatives, for some reason, it seems not to have received the same level of attention as sexual assault on the college campus.For example, during the fall 2014 semester, an incident that occurred between former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and his wife in a hotel elevator in Atlantic City, New Jersey, dominated the nightly news and brought the issue of relationship violence to the national forefront.Most importantly, we must be clear to extend President Obama’s pledge to victims of campus sexual assault; we must let those who have been victims of relationship violence know that we’ve ‘got their back’.Opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of NASPA.As a result, media scrutiny was appropriately brought to the issue of relationship violence among professional athletes and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was admonished for what was perceived as his ineffectual response.During that same time period, however, four college women were murdered by current or former relationship partners (University of Chicago, San Francisco State University, Cornell University, University of South Carolina).Campus student conduct policies and procedures should be reviewed to assure they are attentive to matters of relationship violence.Administrators, especially student conduct adjudicators, must be prepared to equally attend to the concerns of reporters and respondents when allegations of relationship violence are raised.

We must empower victims, teach those who are potential abusers to recognize any such propensity and to refrain from doing so, support survivors, and vigorously address incidents of relationship violence within our campus communities.

As the White House Task Force appointed to make recommendations on statutory language soon realized, the numbers can be elusive since defining what constitutes “dating violence” or even what is a “dating relationship” in an era when the “hooking up” phenomenon tends to blur the lines.

However, recent data provide important context to the importance of considering dating violence in efforts to create and sustain safe campus environments and affirm our educational mission as student affairs practitioners.

Research: In their confidential climate surveys that are being conducted to assess sexual assault on their respective campus, institutions must not forget to include questions concerning their students’ personal experiences and observations to assess the prevalence of dating and domestic violence at their institution.

Administrative Systems: Campus healthcare professionals (i.e. physicians, counselors, educators) should be encouraged to ask the appropriate questions whenever they identify a student who appears to have been the victim of relationship violence.