When It Comes To Preventing Sexual Assault, Aly Raisman Thinks Colleges Can 'Do Better'

"Putting reputations above safety needs to stop."

Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman is once again speaking up for sexual assault survivors — this time, those on college campuses. The gold medalist, who earlier this year testified against former Team USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar in a sexual abuse trial, shared her thoughts on the issue of campus assault in a Twitter post.

Raisman explained that she's heard from students at recent speaking engagements who have been sexually assaulted on campus. "Many come to me because they don't know what else to do," the 23-year-old wrote. "They're traumatized from their horrible experience and also devastated and scared that their abuser is STILL walking around campus. I hear too often that a school did not report their abuse and support the abusers over the survivors."

Research into the issue shows the harsh reality of Raisman's statement. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), 11.2 percent of all students (undergraduate and graduate) experience sexual assault. Among undergrads, the statistics are 23.1 percent for women and 5.4 percent for men. 

However, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the government has conducted 458 investigations into colleges allegedly mishandling sexual violence reports, with 337 still open. Some survivors have spoken out against their schools for how their cases were handled. Women at Tufts and Harvard, for example, burned their school merchandise and sparked the hashtag #JustSaySorry, asking institutions to apologize.

In her message, Raisman went on to urge colleges to "DO BETTER" when it comes to preventing and punishing sexual assault. "Who cares if someone is a starting player, star athlete, exceptional student?" she wrote. "If someone is an abuser, there must be consequences. Putting reputations above safety needs to stop."

The gymnast also brought up the problem of students drugging each other at parties, calling it "completely unacceptable" that there is not more discussion of this issue. "In my opinion, there should be a mandatory class where students are taught the basics of respect and warning signs of abuse," she suggested.

She ended her letter by asking, "Which college will be the leader in helping prevent abuse and supporting survivors?" As Teen Vogue points out, the issue also connects with the Larry Nassar case, as Michigan State University is currently being investigated by a special prosecutor concerning why no action was taken by the university during Nassar's time as sports physician there.

Raisman is doing her own part to stop sexual abuse through her initiative Flip the Switch, which educates adults in how to protect children in gymnastics. 

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