Air Force Academy Sexual Assault Scandal
Q.) What, when, where, did these incidents take place and who was involved?
A.) Officials are investigating the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs over allegations that sexual assault is rampant at the military institution. According to several former female cadets, many of whom have filed lawsuits against the school, sexual misconduct is a serious problem at the academy and has been for a number of years, possibly since women were first admitted in 1976. About 660 women are enrolled at the academy and 398 of those told the Pentagon inspector general's office this summer that they had been subjected to sexual harassment of one form or another.
A civilian commission investigating the scandal reported in September 2003 that top leaders of the Air Force ignored repeated warnings of rape and other sexual assaults at the academy and that the Air Force general counsel, Mary L. Walker, ignored the issue in a June 2003 report on rape at the school. The panel found that "since at least 1993, the highest levels of Air Force leadership have known of serious sexual misconduct problems at the academy." Several top officials at the Air Force Academy were replaced in March 2003 after allegations first emerged, but they have not been punished.
There is always another side to the story The Air Force Academy put together an investigation and came up with this conclusion. Less than 1 percent of male cadets and 5 percent of female cadets at the Air Force Academy have been involved in known sexual assault allegations over the 10-year period examined, according to the report on academy sexual misconduct released June 19. The report acknowledged that sexual assaults are underreported.
A special working group, led by Air Force General Counsel Mary L. Walker, has been investigating reports of alleged incidents of sexual assault since early this year when several allegations were made public.
"We did not find any systematic ignorance of the issue, any systematic avoidance by leadership, and we did not find any wholesale maltreatment of cadets who brought forward allegations," Walker said. "Instead, we found a fairly extensive comprehensive program to deter sexual assaults that had been put in place in 1993."
Q.) What is "sexual harassment"?
A.) Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.
Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to the following: - The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex. - The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee. - The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct. - Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim. - The harasser's conduct must be unwelcome
Q.) What is the environment? / How did this happen?
A.) The Air Force Academy's environment and statistics are as follows
The total enrollment is 4,000; about 1,200 fourth class (freshman) students enter each year. The composition of the student body mirrors that of the Air Force officer corps: about 18 percent women and 18 percent minorities. Students come from all fifty states and several other countries. Their common bond is the desire to be military officers. All cadets must live in on-campus dormitories and wear uniforms.
The environment for sexual assaults and other unacceptable behavior was created by lack of dormitory supervision and visitation rules, Failure to investigate all allegations of assault but letting the victim decide what was done in most cases.
Q.) What was done to resolve the problem?
A.) The Air Force Academy has released this list of things they are going to change and/or improve.
► Narrow its definition of sexual assault.
► Investigate all allegations of assault rather than letting the victim decide what is done in most cases.
► Refine the way it responds to incidents of assault and how it informs cadets on the issues of alcohol use and consent.
► Tighten up dormitory supervision and visitation rules.
Q.) How effective were these solutions?
A.) Only time will tell, reforms and reassignment of senior leaders involved is currently an ongoing endeavor.
Q.) My opinion?
A.) I am close friends with a cadet at the Air Force Academy. The people who commit these acts are the minority. As it says in the Air Force Academy's Core Values, "Integrity first, Service before self and Excellence in all we do, set the common standard for conduct across the Air Force. These values inspire the trust which provides the unbreakable bond that unifies the force. We must practice them ourselves and expect no less from those we serve." Hence from my experience and interaction with numerous cadets from the Air Force Academy I believe that the blame should lay on the accusers for consenting to something and later cry foul and there failure to pursue the issue, the senior leaders failure to adequately handle accusations and just the fact that in a place with some many guys and where the testosterone level must be sickening high creates a unhealthy environment for females.