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It is the core of Restorative Justice that an offender must accept responsibility for the harm that they have caused.

By Michelle Carroll For the past few years, the college sexual assault movement has been unable to answer a simple question: what do we do with people who commit sexual violence? In 2015, Dana Bolger of Feministing asked her readers to consider whether incarcerating a segment of the male population is a viable solution. She highlights a 2015 study from JAMA Pediatrics that she argues successfully challenges the movement’s assumption that a majority of campus sexual violence is perpetrated by repeat offenders, and that in reality, only 25% of campus sexual violence is committed by repeat offenders. Instead, a significant portion of campus rapes are committed by men who rape only once in their college career (this study finds that 10.8% of a university’s male population are ‘one time’ offenders). Bolger concludes her article by arguing that it is not feasible to lock up nearly 11% of the male population in the hopes that by isolating the “real criminals” from our population, we can eradicate campus sexual violence. I agree with Bolger’s conclusion. But, not with her reasoning. Beyond the logistical difficulties, incarcerating 11% of our university male population will further solidify the United States as the most prolific country in rates of mass incarceration. And we know that our criminal justice system actively perpetrates institutional racism and terrorizes communities of color. Black people in this country are five times more likely to be imprisoned than their white counterparts, and Hispanics are imprisoned at double the rates of white people. If we want to radically transform our campus communities and eradicate the cultural norms that underpin sexual violence, imprisoning more black and brown people will only sustain this system of violence. The answer to college sexual assault is not to replicate the racism of our penal system in colleges and universities, but rather to initiate a prevention and response strategy that prioritizes healing for the victim, perpetrator, and the whole community. What do we do with people who commit sexual violence on college and university campuses? The answer is to employ Restorative Justice techniques.
What Restorative Justice Isn’t
When I was a junior at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, there was a public incident of sexual harassment. A male sports team rated women as they walked through the center of campus during the middle of the afternoon. Within hours the entire student population had heard. I didn’t see the team rate women, but I certainly discussed the team’s behavior in conversations with my fellow Women’s Center members as well as on Facebook. However, the college didn’t release a statement or explanation to the student body. As anyone who attended college knows, sexual violence investigations and sanctions are sacrosanct—you may hear about the incident, but you’ll never hear about the aftermath. In this case, our college Title IX coordinator reached out to me to design a Women’s Center conversation around catcalling so that the team could attend and hear the perspective of their female peers. To no one’s surprise, the conversation was a disaster. The team came ready for a fight, bringing female reinforcements to testify in Franklin and Marshall’s Women’s Center that “No, catcalling doesn’t bother me” and “I know I look good when I’m catcalled.” The conversation lasted for an hour and at the end, neither the team nor the Women’s Center members felt heard or supported. Everyone left the room angry and I spent the afternoon sobbing in my dorm room.
Related: THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IS SIDING WITH RAPISTS

Trump's plan to erase the Obama administration’s policies will support a system that will continue to inflict trauma and will perpetuate the informal legalization of rape.

In a completely unsurprising turn of events, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that the Department of Education under President Donald Trump, would dismantle parts of Title IX, including policies based on the 2011, Office for Civil Rights-issued “Dear Colleague” letter, which stipulates that sexual violence and harassment interfere with a student’s right to receive an education free from discrimination. The announcement comes after DeVos spent this summer consulting with various campus sexual assault groups to decide the best course of action to uphold patriarchal white supremacy. Among advocates for survivors, she also met with — surprise, surprise — advocates for the rights of accused rapists. The department hasn’t specified a timeline just yet, so for now, this announcement simply confirms their intent. Given that the President is an admitted and unapologetic sexual predator himself, this is appalling but unfortunately it is not shocking. The White House removed its report on sexual assault prevention from its website just before the announcement, as if it couldn’t make it any clearer how this administration feels about sexual violence.
Related: HERE’S WHY THE DONALD TRUMP RAPE ALLEGATIONS SHOULD BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY

Prioritizing Ethnic Studies in our education curriculum is an essential step toward decolonizing and rectifying an education system that for too long has refused to serve the needs of people of color.

Next year is the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Third World Liberation Front Strikes, the longest-running student-led strikes in the history of the United States. These strikes, which were begun by working class students of color at San Francisco State University and UC Berkeley,, marked the first time that BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) students demanded an education that actually reflected their own histories–as told from their own perspectives. Before this time, few if any schools offered courses that featured the histories and cultures of BIPOC in the United States. If BIPOC people or histories were mentioned at all, they were usually taught from the perspective of a mainstream, Eurocentric curriculum–meaning that BIPOC were mentioned as an aside, or as marginal characters in a larger historical narrative that centered on white people and their histories. For much of U.S. history, for example, basic knowledge of Greek and Latin was a general admissions requirement at major universitiesa blatant example of racist policies at work in the public education system that explicitly worked to the disadvantage of students of color. Explicitly or implicitly, women and students of color were also barred from entering the university at all.
Related: SEX EDUCATION CENTERS WHITENESS — AND IT’S A PROBLEM

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