Reform

West Point to Host 2nd National Discussion on Collegiate Sexual Assaults

Nov. 1, 2019

This spring, the secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force will meet in New York on the campus of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, for a second series of discussions on the prevention of and response to sexual assault and sexual harassment on college campuses nationwide.

A graphic showing the words National Discussion on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment and the dates April 1-3, 2020.
National Discussion on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment
National Discussion on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment
Photo By: DOD graphic
VIRIN: 191101-D-XT155-002

Subject matter experts, college and university presidents, academics, and civilian and government leaders will also converge for the April 1-3 event.

"The purpose of this national discussion is to bring together leading experts and university leadership to better understand and address the challenges of eliminating sexual assault and sexual harassment at military service academies and on college and university campuses across the nation," said Dr. James Helis, director of the Army's Sexual Harassment Assault Response and Prevention, Ready and Resilient Directorate in Washington, D.C. 

A woman speaks to an audience from a stage.
Andra Tharp
Andra Tharp, a professor at Georgia State University, moderates a panel discussion during the National Discussion on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at America's Colleges, Universities and Service Academies in Annapolis, Md., April 4, 2019. The forum, co-hosted by the secretaries of the Navy, the Army and the Air Force at the U.S. Naval Academy, brought together leaders and subject matter experts to better understand and address the challenge of eliminating sexual assault and sexual harassment on college, university and military service academy campuses across the nation.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Sarah Villegas
VIRIN: 190404-N-YG104-0007C

"Through ongoing dialogue and collaboration, university leaders and subject matter experts will share challenges and successes in enacting effective policies to decrease and eliminate sexual assault and sexual harassment," he said.

A red, white and blue painting of a stylized vertical U.S. flag superimposed by text reading, “protecting each other protects our mission.”
Tecumseh Court Mural
A sexual assault awareness and prevention mural in Tecumseh Court at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., April 4, 2019. The academy hosted the National Discussion on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at America’s Colleges, Universities and Service Academies. The forum, co-hosted by the secretaries of the Navy, the Army and the Air Force, brought together leaders and subject matter experts to better understand and address the challenge of eliminating sexual assault and sexual harassment on college, university and military service academy campuses across the nation.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Sarah Villegas
VIRIN: 190404-N-YG104-0036

This is the second year of the national discussion, an initiative developed by the secretaries of the Air Force and Navy, and Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper during his time as Army secretary. The conference demonstrates the resolve of the armed services to eradicate sexual assault and sexual harassment at the academies, in ROTC programs across the country and in the ranks of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. 

"West Point is honored to host this important discussion on eliminating sexual violence on our college and university campuses," said Army Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, West Point's superintendent. "Sexual assault and harassment have no place at West Point, on college campuses, or in our military. We must foster a climate of trust that respects and protects our students, whether they’re attending civilian colleges and universities, or wearing a military uniform."

A Marine stands near the rear of an auditorium as a speaker addresses an audience.
National Discussion
Marine Corps Sgt. Irene Canutillo listens to a panel during the National Discussion on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at America's Colleges, Universities and Service Academies in Annapolis, Md., April 4, 2019. The forum, co-hosted by the secretaries of the Navy, the Army and the Air Force at the U.S. Naval Academy, brought together leaders and subject matter experts to better understand and address the challenge of eliminating sexual assault and sexual harassment on college, university and military service academy campuses across the nation.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Sarah Villegas
VIRIN: 190404-N-YG104-0022C

Results of a survey released by the Pentagon earlier this year reported students at the nation's military service academies experienced nearly a 50% increase in unwanted sexual contact during the last academic year.

The estimated number of occurrences of unwanted sexual contact – behavior that ranges from groping to rape – rose from 507 across all service academies during the 2015-2016 academic year to 747 in 2017-2018, according to a report from DOD's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. Nearly 13,000 students attend the three academies.

Sailors carrying swords march in formation.
Midshipmen Formation
Midshipmen participate in noon meal formation at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., April 4, 2019. The academy hosted the National Discussion on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at America’s Colleges, Universities and Service Academies. The forum, co-hosted by the secretaries of the Navy, the Army and the Air Force, brought together leaders and subject matter experts to better understand and address the challenge of eliminating sexual assault and sexual harassment on college, university and military service academy campuses across the nation.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Sarah Villegas
VIRIN: 190404-N-YG104-0032C

Sexual assault, in the military and on campuses, has been under a microscope in recent years, with multiple research efforts dedicated to tracking assaults and preventing future violence. Working together, the Service secretaries believe academic leaders at this recurring event can develop and share strategies, which will make a significant impact on increasing awareness, improving education, strengthening prevention efforts, and providing care for victims.