Lauren Germain stands in the center of a room filled with members of American Association of University Women who gathered at Skaneateles Country Club on May 4 to hear her discuss a serious problem that is plaguing American universities: gender violence on campus.
“The topic of sexual assault isn’t easy, that’s why it’s often swept under the rug. But I think talking about the aftermath and the empowerment is important.”
She apologized for the heaviness of the topic, “I understand if any of you need to leave the room during this,” and promised that there will be more uplifting parts of her presentation to come.
A student of sociology and political science, Germain, a seasoned orator, speaks with directness, organization and eloquence; she held everyone’s attention consistently.
Germain’s presentation was full of statistics regarding sexual assault on campus, problems that the universities have handling this crime, and her experience working with the women who had been faced with assault at college. She emphasized that assault is “under-reported and under-treated” one of the most under-reported crimes in the U.S., meaning that gender violence occurs more often than what is believed on our campuses.
She discussed her findings on this horrendous crime in speaking with those who were affected and why it’s so seldom reported. She explained that some women don’t report an incident because they feel that their assault cannot fit the legal definition, or because they didn’t immediately seek medical help, their perpetrator wouldn’t be brought to justice because they didn’t “do what they were supposed to do” when they were attacked. Some even believed that they weren’t “battered enough” or that they didn’t “look” as though they had been assaulted, and they assumed that their story wouldn’t be believed by authorities or that they didn’t “deserve” to report the incident.