By Bettina Muenster and Barbara Cassidy –
For too long women and men have been reluctant to come forward when they have been raped or otherwise sexually assaulted. Sexual violence affects millions of Americans. Every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted (RAINN). One in four women in the United States will experience some kind of abuse during her lifetime (NYC Mayor’s OCDV).
We know that domestic violence and sexual violence very often intersect. We also know that college age women are more likely to experience sexually violent crimes than any other group, and the risks are even higher for young people from communities of color, as well as those who identify as LGBTQ (NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault).
This reality, amplified by many women and men coming forward with stories of harassment and assault in the #MeToo movement, compelled faculty, students, and administrators at John Jay College of Criminal Justice to launch an initiative to take place throughout the spring semester 2018, titled: Sexual Justice Now! We hope that our series, which launched in February and will continue throughout the semester, will generate strong interest, increase awareness, and engage students, and prompt change.
John Jay College of Criminal Justice should be leading the way in a culture of change surrounding rape and sexual violence through its academic curricula and faculty scholarship and research. The complex nature of one of the most controversial issues in the country cannot be resolved unless continued dialogue and information sharing takes place.
As the preeminent College exploring criminal and social justice issues, we are uniquely positioned to provide an environment that is safe, inviting and respectful of differing views as we discuss these complex issues.
At a time that some have described as a defining moment and tipping point in America, we are proud to address the issues of sexual harassment and sexual violence in this multidisciplinary manner.
Bettina Muenster is the Assistant Director of the Office for Student Research & Creativity, and Barbara Cassidy is a professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies.