Colleges’ Dirty Little Secret and the Politics of Silence

Katherine White
One with Heart Program Coordinator


People are talking about sexual assault on college campuses, but are college administrations listening?  Students say that 20 percent of women and 5 percent of men are sexually assaulted while attending college.[i] Colleges, interested in preserving their image of safety, prefer to keep these claims on the down low. As the conversation heats up, colleges are under increasing pressure to listen and change. What happens on November 8th will determine whether they keep listening or barricade themselves behind a wall of silence and continue with business as usual.

Business as usual for today’s colleges and universities means big business.[ii] The shift, beginning in the early 1980’s, toward higher education operating on capitalist management principles has meant a shift in focus from creating educated citizens to providing the biggest and best “college experience.” As Andrew Rossi points out in his 2014 documentary, Ivory Tower,[iii] students have become consumers and university presidents have become CEO’s earning millions of dollars a year to oversee the many elements of the college experience, including protecting the image and the brand that sells their college in a highly competitive market.

The bottom line, rape on college campus is bad for business. The Hunting Ground, a powerful documentary released in February 2015, looks at rape on college campuses and exposes the lengths university officials go to cover up sexual assaults to protect their image.[iv] The documentary follows students who allege they were raped at college and looks at how their complaints were handled, focusing particularly on The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Harvard, Amherst College and Notre Dame. Against a backdrop of university claims that they take sexual assault seriously, students’ complaints are met with victim blaming, indifference and inaction.

These colleges, along with most colleges and universities around the country, site very low numbers of sexual assaults, indicating they are underreporting, despite federal requirements under the Clery Act that they keep and disclose information about crime on or near their campuses.[v] The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with a student population of approximately 29,000, sites 21 rape reports and 9 reports of forcible sex offences in 2015. Despite the large discrepancy between these numbers and the reality of what women are experiencing, this shows an increase in reporting over their 2013 statistics which site 0 rapes and 19 forcible sex offences.[vi]

President Obama has been outspoken about colleges not doing an adequate job of addressing sexual assault and has taken steps to solve the problem. In 2013 he signed into law the saVE Act which expands the transparency requirements of the Clery Act; requires that colleges follow up reports of sexual assaults with disciplinary proceedings; and offers resources to colleges to implement awareness programs. [vii] He followed up in 2014 with his ‘It’s on Us’ campaign calling for everyone to get involved in changing the culture of silence. In his speech launching the campaign he said: “To work so hard to make it through the college gates only to be assaulted is an affront to our basic humanity. It is on all of us to reject the quiet tolerance of sexual assault and to refuse to accept what is unacceptable.”[viii]

Obama has put some teeth into these initiatives. He threatened to pull funding from colleges who fail to make changes. Both Obama and Biden said that neither they, their wives or members of their cabinet will accept speaking engagements at institutions they consider insufficiently serious about pursuing sexual assault allegations.[ix]

Will our next president provide this same kind of leadership? Neither candidate addressed this issue during the debates despite pressure from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center so their record and character must speak for them.[x]

Clinton has long been an advocate for women’s rights. She supported the passage of the Violence Against Women Act and the creation of the Dept. of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women. When the Brock Turner case became public she spoke on behalf of the survivor and said that, as president, addressing sexual assault on college campuses will be a priority.[xi] She has posted her plan on her website, a plan which mirrors the work that Obama started.[xii]

Trump has released no statement on this issue and posted no plan on his website. He treats women like objects, speaks of them as animals, and currently stands accused of sexual assault by numerous women. Trump modeling agency, owned by Donald Trump, is being sued by one of his models who claims that Trump brought her to the United States from Jamaica with promises of a high salary, forced her to live in sweatshop conditions, and paid her practically nothing.[xiii] Her claims are supported by other models, some as young as 14, brought to the United States by the agency, held in squalid conditions with no legal status and virtually no income.[xiv]

Despite a pattern of abuse against women, disregard for human rights, shady deals, unkept promises, and failed businesses, Trump entices voters with claims he will make America great by running the country like a business. Think for a moment about what this means.  The primary concern of the CEO of any business is financial gain. There is often a conflict between financial self-interest and the interests of society as a whole. We see this in the conflict colleges have between protecting their brand and protecting their students.

Our elected leaders are not CEOs. Their leadership role is very different; they are charged with keeping individual self-interest in check through incentives, regulations, and legislation. We expect their voice and vision to protect the greater good. Clinton, who has spent her life in public service, understands this. Trump, who has spent his life in service to himself, does not.

It is time to decide whose voice and vision will lead our country forward. There are many issues at stake that directly impact our lives. What is happening on our college campuses is one and it is not insignificant. Seventeen million young adults attend colleges and universities in the United States; 57 percent are women. It has been in the financial best interests of colleges to remain in denial about the scope of sexual assault and stay silent. Will we continue to address their denial with policies and programs that break down the wall of silence, or will we go back to business as usual? We decide on November 8th.  We must choose wisely.

Image Source


[i] Washington Post/Kaiser Foundation; DiJulio, Bianca, et al. Survey of Current and Recent College Students on Sexual Assault. June 12, 2015.

Anderson, Nick and Clement, Scott. “College Sexual Assault: 1 in 5 College Women Say They Were Violated.” The Washington Post, June 12, 2015.

Association of American Universities; AAU Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct. 2014

[ii] Kasperkevic, Jana. “The Harsh Truth: US colleges are businesses, and student loans pay the bills.” the guardian. October 7, 2014.

[iii] Ivory Tower. Director Andrew Rossi. Produced by CNN Films. January 18, 2014. Film.

[iv] The Hunting Ground. Director Kirby Dick. Produced by Amy Ziering. February 27, 2015. Film.

[v] Wikipedia. “The Clery Act.” Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia.

[vi] The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 2016 Annual Campus Security Report.

[vii] Understanding the saVE Act. Know Your Title IX: Empowering Students to Stop Sexual Violence.

[viii] Somanader, Tanya. Government Blog, White House website. “President Barak Obama Launches the ‘It’s On Us Campaign to End Sexual Assault on Campus.”   the White House President Barak Obama.  September 19, 2014.

[ix] Eilperin, Juliet. “Biden and Obama rewrite the rulebook on college sexual assault.” The Washington Post, July 3, 2016.

[x] Young, Ashley and Tin, Alexander. “What Will Clinton and Trump Do About Sexual Assault On College Campuses?” npr Oregon Public Broadcasting politics. August 7, 2016.

[xi] Stein, Sam and Kingkade, Tyler. “Hillary Clinton Praises Courage Of The Victim Of The Brock Turner Sexual Assault.” The Huffington Post, June 15, 2016.


[xiii] Mosk, Matthew, Ross, Brian and Kreider, Randy. “Trump Model Felt like ‘Slave’ Working For Trump Agency.” ABC News. May 10, 2016.

[xiv] West, James.  “Former Models For Donald Trump Agency Say They Violated Immigration Rules and Worked Illegally: ‘it’s like modern slavery’. “Mother Jones, August 30, 2016.



NO GO YELL TELL for girls ages 9 – 11


NO GO YELL TELL for girls age 9 – 11
When:  Saturday Nov. 5 from 2 – 4 p.m.
Where:  One with Heart Hawthorne
Cost:  $35
Age appropriate self-defense. Kids have fun developing the skills to act in their own behalf. Topics covered:  bullying, defense against strangers and familiar adults.

Protecting our Children and Finding the Gift


Katherine White
One with Heart Program Coordinator

The moment our child is born we begin creating safety. An environment free of sharp objects, electric outlets, hazardous staircases. An environment where our child is surrounded by thoughtful, loving, adults and children. The vigilance of parenting a newborn is exhausting, but the reward is that we feel a pretty solid sense of control over risk. As our child grows up, minimizing risk becomes complicated. We must strike a balance between vigilance and letting go. How do we assess and avoid risk and still allow opportunities for our children to become independent? Gavin De Becker’s book, Protecting the Gift, provides insightful, practical answers to this question. [i]

Parents and guardians are 100 percent responsible for the safety of their children for many years. This responsibility can feel overwhelming, but the good news is we are genetically wired to do the job. That wiring is in what De Becker calls the ‘wild brain’.  The wild brain is different from the logical brain. The wild brain is our intuition, gut feeling, that ability we all have to take in signals of danger before we logically conclude that something is wrong. Logic takes time, it is slow. Intuition is immediate and fast.  Intuition is the nagging feeling that you aren’t comfortable with your daughter spending the night at a particular friend’s house. Logic is the process of thinking it through and recounting the many ways mom’s new boyfriend has been paying extra attention to your daughter. If we trust our intuition, logic can usually follow along and fill in the missing pieces.

Intuition is not only the fastest source of information; when it comes to detecting danger it is the most reliable. De Becker begins his book telling us “we must listen to internal warnings while they are still whispers. The voice that knows how to protect your children may not always be the loudest, but it is the wisest.” When we are reluctant to trust our intuition, our logical brain may actually be a source of misinformation that interferes with our internal warning system. Two of the most common interferences are denial and worry.

Denial is refusal to face reality about who predatory offenders are and what they are capable of. We believe that strangers are the greatest source of danger. In fact, 90 percent of children are molested by someone they know. We think we have chosen a safe neighborhood to raise our children. In fact, the Dept. of Justice estimates that on average there is one child molester per square mile. We assume predators display signs of sexual deviance that make them easy for us and law enforcement to recognize. In fact, sex offenders are often charming masters of deceit who offend an average of 30 – 60 times before they are ever arrested. If we refuse to look at who the threat is, the loud voice of denial can talk us right out of following up on the information our intuition gives us.

While worry seems to come with the territory of parenting, there are good reasons to keep it in check. De Becker describes worry as fear we manufacture. It is a state of anxiety about things we imagine could happen as opposed to the internal alarm our intuition sets off when danger actually is happening. If danger is imminent, our intuition triggers a primal fear response that is nature’s way of protecting us. It spurs us to action. When we live in a state of manufactured fear, it is much harder for the signal to get through.

Also, worry is often misdirected and serves as a distraction from facing uncomfortable situations closer to home. It is easier to worry about a possible stranger abduction, which is extremely rare, than to do the hard work of fully investigating the day care provider. It is less awkward to talk about stranger danger at the PTA meeting than to bring up your concern about the math teacher taking a special interest in vulnerable kids. But while you are busy looking for bad guys in the bushes, the next door neighbor may gradually be charming his way into a position where he can abuse your child.

The antidotes for denial and worry are information and confidence. A lot of accurate information is available about predatory behavior and the real risks to children. While it may not be pleasant reading, accurate information makes you much less vulnerable to the common tactics employed by offenders. I also recommend that parents invest in self-defense training for themselves. A good self-defense class dispels myths about sexual assault and trains strategies to respond assertively to a potential threat. Even a few hours of training will help you develop the skills and the confidence to recognize risk, assess options, and take action even in situations that feel socially awkward.

Teaching children to protect themselves begins at home. Confident, assertive, informed adults are more likely to raise confident, assertive, informed kids. These are the qualities that make kids and adults less likely to be targeted by predatory offenders. As kids mature they gradually take on more responsibility for their own safety.  By the time they reach adolescence they have the independence to make decisions that can impact the rest of their lives, but they still need our support and guidance. Whether or not they will turn to us for support and guidance depends a lot on how we have handled challenges along the way. If denial and worry have informed our parenting our teenage children may not feel we can support them with straight forward information and they may choose not to share their problems with us because they don’t want to shock or worry us.

A parent’s most important job is to provide a safe haven for our children; a place where they know they are loved and know we are strong enough to handle anything. And we really are strong enough. The moment our baby is born we experience a power within ourselves we may have never experienced before. This awakening connects us with the internal strength to face our own troubles and fears and tackle reality head-on. From that first day forward it is our job to do exactly that.

No matter how well we do our job, we can never completely control how things turn out. To our children we give everything and are guaranteed nothing. If we choose to accept this unreasonable deal with nature, we each receive a hidden gift; the strength and wisdom to be a better person than we ever thought possible.


[i] De Becker, Gavin. Protecting the Gift:  Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane). New York, New York: Dell Publishing: 1999.

This book is a comprehensive, easy to read, straight forward look at offender behavior and the tools we have to keep our children safe. It is a guide to It assessing and recognizing risk and it provides practical information about: choosing a baby sitter, nanny, day care center, and pediatrician; recognizing and addressing problems at school; parenting teenagers; and more.


Tailan Spear

Open to: Adults and kids White sash and above, age 10 and above
Dates:  Saturdays, Oct. 8 – Nov. 12
Time:  Noon – 1:30 p.m.
Cost:  $199, pre-register before Sept. 24 for $175 (plus the cost of the weapon).

The Tailan Spear is the King of the Chinese long weapons. It combines aspects of the staff and sword and is a stepping stone toward more advanced weapon technique.

This workshop is taught in two part. Beginners will learn Part 1. If you have trained this weapon before you will be taught part 2.


Strong and Powerful Kids

Written by Farley Welch
One with Heart Kids Instructor

You can never tell, in advance, who Pukulan Indonesian Martial Arts will resonate with. Fire Dragons (6-7 year old students) come in all shapes, sizes and temperaments – truly like flowers – each one unique. Our broken-mirror style is clearly visible in these beginning students. One thing they do share with each other is that first step onto the mat. For some it’s natural and confident – another group of kids; sort of done this before. For many, however, you can really feel the bravery they’ve mustered to let go of mom or dad’s hand and line up.


When Justice Fails Turn Anger into Action

Katherine White
One with Heart Program Coordinator


Brock Turner, convicted rapist, receives only six months in county jail. Sentencing guidelines say he should receive 2 – 14 years in prison. This miscarriage of justice has caught fire in social media and now there is a recall campaign against Aaron Persky, the Santa Clara judge who identifies so closely with the perpetrator that he justifies the light sentence saying that going to prison would “have a severe impact on him” and blames the victim because she was drunk at the time of the attack.[i]


NY Times Picture

The Best Self-Defense Everyone Walks Away Except the Bad Guy

Katherine White
One with Heart Program Coordinator

When I teach self-defense I often say “the best self-defense is to never know what could have happened, because it didn’t.” Even better, here is a story (see article below) about a group of women who knew exactly what could have happened, and it didn’t – and the bad guy is looking at some real jail time. [i]


Black Belt Test


Begins Fri. October 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Testing is a transformation experience. Testing is a once in a lifetime event. All Pukulan students are invited to attend, participate, support and witness this amazing weekend.


“I Can Do This”

Kids Blog by Danielle McGrath

Kids Program Director

Recently I heard the words, “ I love a challenge,” from one of the students in the Transported After School Pukulan Program.

We were working slowly for good alignment on a more advanced form. His battle cry of loving the process of learning inspired the whole class to deep dive into their training. There were hoots and hollers all around. I was the loudest!

Learning to embrace a challenge with a “can do” problem solving mentality builds the internal strength of a student. It feels so great to have put in the work to eventually feel and demonstrate the mastery of a skill. Talent only goes so far but a strong work ethic and love of the process will benefit students in every part of their lives ….and it’s just more fun!

Check out this article that speaks to how many of us approach teaching at One With Heart.

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