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The Need to Reduce Sexual Violence at Loyola University

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Sexual violence is an important issue on college campuses which needs to be addressed. Loyola University unfortunately also has this issue on its campus. Sexual violence exists in many forms which including the following: sexual assault, sexual harassment, rape, sex trafficking, sexual exploitation, and many more. According to the Office of Women’s Health, sexual assault often goes unreported on college campuses and is a common problem on campus (“Sexual Assault,” 2018). Sexual violence on a college campus ruins the likelihood of students feeling safe and secure. Not only does it prevent the safety of the students, but it also affects the cohesion of students and faculty on campus.

Sexual violence on college campuses not only affects the school but it affects the involved students on a personal level as well. Individuals who are victims/survivors of sexual violence are prone to have their mental health deteriorated. Those affected by sexual violence often fall victim to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression (“Sexual Assault”, 2018). Loyola University would like to provide programs across campus in order to bring awareness to sexual violence. Not only does Loyola University want to bring awareness, but they also want to reduce the sexual violence rates on their campus.

Sexual violence is not only an issue, but it is also a crime. Criminology can be used to help bring awareness to why sexual violence occurs and how it can possibly be reduced. Two theories will play a major role in determining how to reduce sexual violence on the Loyola New Orleans campus. These two theories are: social disorganization theory and general strain theory. Social disorganization ties criminal behavior into the neighborhoods these students come from but does not help them on an individual level. However, the general strain theory can be used to provide insight to why an individual may commit an act of sexual violence.

Clifford Shaw and Henry McKay developed the social disorganization theory. This theory focuses on the breakdown of social institutions within a community (Cullen et al., 2018). Ernest Burgess and Robert Park created concentric zone model that is often connected to this theory. This model is used to show different areas of major cities. There are five zones included in this model: central business district, zone of transition, zone of independent workers’ homes, zone of better residences, and commuters’ zone (Cullen et al., 2018). This theory points out how different people within different parts of the community are exposed to various standards and values. A major difference between neighborhoods tend to be economic status. Areas that tend to be upper-class tend to have lower rates of crimes. These areas are prone to have more organizations and activities in place for their residents. This gives the residents less time to focus on criminal behavior. Lower-class neighborhoods tend to have less legitimate businesses and criminal gangs (Cullen et al., 2018).

The social disorganization theory cannot be applied to programs made to reduce sexual violence on Loyola University’s campus. This theory would not connect very well with reducing sexual violence due to the focus being more on environment/areas then individuals. While sexual violence rates may differ from neighborhood to neighborhood, it would be more feasible to focus on the individuals and not the whole city. Loyola University has its’ own diverse culture, the social disorganization theory would be irrelevant to use towards its programming to reduce sexual violence. The program to reduce sexual violence will focus with students on campus, not the whole city of New Orleans. Shaw and McKay’s social disorganization theory focuses on different neighborhoods and values within these neighborhoods at a macro level while Loyola University needs to focus on its campus and students at a micro level.

Robert Agnew’s general strain theory derives from the classical strain theory. The classical strain theory is based on individuals being pressured to commit crimes (Cullen et al., 2018). Strain theories focus on how society sets certain goals that they expect their citizens to achieve. When the citizens do not achieve these goals, they feel pressured into committing crimes to fulfil these goals. Agnew’s general strain theory is based off this theory but focuses specifically on strain created due to negative relationships. According to Cullen, there are three types of negative relationships that play a major role in this theory: ones that threaten or remove positive stimuli, ones that threaten or prevent achievement of constructive goals, and ones that threaten or present negative stimuli (Cullen et al., 2018). These three relations threaten how people perceive society. Positive stimuli in terms of relations can include best friends, romantic partners, family members etc. If a person experiences a death of a close friend, they are likely to have negative emotions attached to that event. They may not be able to properly cope with their negative feelings and feel the need to act defiant. If one feels threatened to achieve their financial goals, they may feel they need to shoplift in order to provide themselves with the materials things they seek. Last, but not least, if someone feels physically threatened (negative stimuli), one may build up negative emotions that explode in the wrong ways. This may lead to aggravated assault charges, murder, assault/battery and other charges relating to physical altercations.

Agnew’s general strain theory can be applied to programs made to reduce sexual violence on Loyola University’s campus. Negative emotions and stimuli play a major role in how one may act. If people are unable to control these negative emotions, they are more than likely to lash out in inappropriate ways. Loyola University will strive to prevent the negative relations associated with Agnew’s general strain theory. The first negative relations that Loyola and their students will learn to address is relationships that threaten or remove positive stimuli. This usually means that a very important person or item is no longer involved in the student’s life. This can be due to a death, relocation, and other means. This can lead to sexual violence because the individual may be looking for a way out. Individuals may use sexual acts to provide as a distraction to the real issue bothering them. If an individual was in a long-term relationship and their partner suddenly leaves them, that individual is most likely not going to know how to cope. Loyola University can address this with their students by providing free counseling services to those who are experiencing any type of loss. That individual who just got out of a long-term relationship may attend a party, become drunk, and decide to hook up with another student. The student that is participating with the other individual may not have given their consent. This is a common thing on college campuses. The downside to this is, any form of intoxication prevents consent. Without consent, sexual acts may turn into sexual violence. Loyola University can address this with their students by providing hotline numbers across campus, holding mediation sessions between the victim and perpetrator, promoting alcohol free activities, etc. There any many ways a college can try to prevent these kinds of sexual assaults from happening.

The second focus of the general strain theory that Loyola University can use to try to reduce sexual assaults/violence is removing relations that may threaten and/or remove the achievement of constructive goals. If a person feels like their goals are being threatened, they may act out in negative ways. While everyone on campus has a common goal of earning their degree, everyone has their own goals outside of that. Here is an example on what can happen on a college campus that interferes with the student’s goals. An individual and their classmate agree to meet up to work on an assignment together. One has the intention of actually doing homework, while the other just wants to meet up and have sex. The individual who actually wants to focus on their homework goes to their classmate’s dorm room, pulls out their books and turns around to face their classmate. Their classmate then takes the opportunity to grab that person by their arms and pull them into their body. That classmate then proceeds to sexually touch the individual in the front and rear when the individual tries to pull away. This is an act of sexual assault. Loyola University can address this by offering safe spaces across campus that students can use to study and do homework with their peers. That student that was sexual assaulted was trying to work on homework in order to pass their class to meet their overall goal of obtaining their degree. Their classmate provided an unwelcomed environment that prevented that student from trying to reach their goals. Loyola University’s new program to reduce sexual violence can provide a battle buddy system. This system will allow students to pick another student that they trust to go to events and places with them. Having a battle buddy present may reduce the chances of sexual assault taking place.

Last, but not least, Loyola University needs to address relations that threaten to present negative stimuli. Negative stimuli can appear in many forms, but for this case, it appears as the sexual perpetrator. Loyola University’s new program shall prevent perpetrators and victims from coming in contact with one another. Loyola should focus on removing that perpetrator from the campus to prevent them from committing more sexual assaults. If this is unable to happen, they need to provide counseling/therapeutic sessions for the perpetrator that helps them work on accepting no as an answer. If the victim is willing to come in contact with the perpetrator, Loyola University needs to conduct mediation sessions to try to fix the relationship between the individuals involved. While nobody can take back the assault that occurred, they can work with one another to prevent another one from happening.

In conclusion, Loyola University in New Orleans needs to implement a program that focuses on the three major negative relations associated with Agnew’s general strain theory. Loyola University can do this in many forms including the following: providing alcohol/drug free events to stimuli pressure (non-sexual), provide counseling sessions to victims and perpetrators of sexual violence, provide hotline access to all students, removing the perpetrators of sexual assault, and many more ways.

References

  • Cullen, F. T., Agnew, R., & Wilcox, P. (2018). Criminological Theory: Past to Present, Essential Readings. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Sexual assault on college campuses is common. (2018, September 13). Retrieved from https://www.womenshealth.gov/relationships-and-safety/sexual-assault-and-rape/college-sexual-assault.

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