College campuses are an important part of Maine; They include people coming together to learn from each other.
The University of Maine in Farmington plays an important role in our community, especially in the Franklin County area. College students who attend this university do not always feel safe and supportive. Over the past few years, sexual harassment has increased on campuses across the country; Farmington is no exception.
Laws such as the recently proposed LD 1727 require new laws to hold perpetrators accountable and to keep our college campuses safe. Students deserve to be respected, students deserve to be trusted, and students deserve to feel safe when they go to school. Currently, there are no laws in place that require universities to hold those perpetrators accountable, and provide adequate support for surviving students.
It is important that we continue to advocate for change in our legal field for the safety of our youth, friends, and college-educated neighbors. No one should feel safe going to school. The abuser cannot escape the heinous crime; They must be responsible.
Advocating for the safety of our students is incredibly important, and establishing laws will help bring justice to those who have escaped such crimes.
90% of cases of sexual harassment of college students are never reported. Meanwhile, one in five women and one in every 16 men are attacked while on campus. These numbers are higher than most people would like to admit.
These are the victims of our neighbors, children and friends. It has been a long time since laws were passed that support survivors and clearly define what sexual assault is.
As a community, we need to continue to support bills that keep our students safe. It needs support from our community and from many communities around Maine across the country. Many organizations and non-profit organizations need to come together to advocate for safer college campuses.
Continue to support bills that support survivors, hold aggressors accountable, and support your local organizations that support abuse survivors. The only way to make a difference is to advocate for that change.
Angelica Levy is a Franklin County-based social service professional and graduate social work student.