The True "Price" Of Being A Young Woman In College (And It's Not OK)

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Price of Being Women In College
Sex, Self

My son picked his college based on academic fit, my daughter picked hers based on campus safety.

When looking for a college for my son, we visited a variety of campuses.

We asked questions about the academic rigor of the schools, travel abroad opportunities, job and internship placement and the diverse makeup of the student body. My husband and I felt comfortable letting our son choose almost any college that he wanted to go to. Off he went to a wonderful college essentially without a care in the world. 

Now we're looking for a college for our daughter and she (and other young women) face a complete gender bias. Given that, we ruled a number of schools out immediately because date rape and safety issues on campus are a concern for us. We've looked at the safety statistics on each school's websites.

I never thought once about asking for the rape and sexual assault statistics on campus when screening schools for my son.

But while touring the campuses with my daughter, I looked around for emergency stations  we asked about free car services and rides home if our daughter ever felt unsafe or stranded somewhere. At one school, I realized that I wasn't even listening to information about academics because I was so focused on how dark the campus appeared, with many poorly lit walking areas. 

And the saddest part of this is — I'm not some hyper-protective, worry wart mother. 

We have real reason to worry about our daughter's safety considering that "one in five college women were victims of rape or attempted rape during their freshmen year, with the most falling prey during their first three months on campus," according to a new study

As if that isn't scary enough, it isn't just the violent stranger that we worry about; as most young women are typically raped on dates or by male acquaintances.

"About 85 to 90 percent of sexual assaults reported by college women are perpetrated by someone known to the victim; about half occur on a date. The most common locations are the man or woman's home in the context of a party or a date. The perpetrators may range from classmates to neighbors." 

The college search for young women vs. young men is dramatically different — ultimately unfair —  forcing young women to focus on issues beyond academics (i.e. the likelihood of their day-to-day physical safety on campus) and then choosing a college based on those. 

When young women finally choose a college, they're bombarded with advice about how to remain safe on campus.

Although I appreciate the advice that young women are given, I'm appalled that we have put the burden of staying safe (i.e. not getting raped) on them, rather than on the men who are raping them.

By the way, 99 percent of rapes on campus are reportedly committed by men

When we put the burden of not getting raped on our young college women, we deprive them of the opportunity to experience college in the same way that our young men do. The focus of their college experience becomes one of keeping themselves and their friend's safe. 

We send women to college with mace, self-defense classes, loads of advice, but not the freedom to focus on fun and academics and recreation that men on college campuses nonchalantly enjoy.

The burden is a heavy one, in that if they DO get raped, women are told that they didn't do enough to keep themselves safe.  

Some of you will throw out an example of false accusations, however it has been proven that, "only about 2 percent of all sexual assault accusations reported to police turn out to be false. This is the same rate of false reporting as other types of violent crimes." 

The sad truth is that campus life is a dangerous place for women when it should justly be, both, safe and a place of growth and happiness for them. 

It's time to change the conversation and change college campuses. Males shouldn't step foot on any campus without training on not raping, the importance of consent, and a university culture of protecting women on campus — regardless of a woman's level of intoxication or what she's wearing.

Young women and young men need to know that swift and severe punishment awaits any student committing any form of rape.

A woman should NEVER have to remain on campus with the man who raped her; males who rape warrant immediate and permanent expulsion from campus. It's also essential that universities implement an efficient and effective campus-wide reporting system to ensure that threatening or concerning behavior is quickly addressed.

College campuses must remain a place of learning, fun, and safety for all coeds — not just the men. Rape on campus is far too common (treated like a right of passage by many young men) and keeps college women from gaining the full collegiate experience.

The price of fear has become too high and unfairly keeps young women on campus from fully focusing on academics. It's time to take the burden of being raped off of girls and place it on to the men who seek to rape them. Educating young women should never have to include, "How Not To Get Raped 101." 

Lisa Kaplin is a psychologist and life coach at

You can reach her at  



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