Since the fall, the staggering cascade of sexual-misconduct allegations waged against powerful men—from Hollywood moguls to prominent politicians—has mostly centered on the workplace. But as the nation fixated on the downfalls of Harvey Weinstein, John Conyers, and countless others, what has come to be known as the #MeToo movement has been reverberating on college campuses across the country, too.
Students flooded social-media feeds with their own stories; university leaders condemned sexual harassment in emails and announcements. Amelia Goldberg, a junior at Harvard College and member of the student-run anti-sexual-violence group Our Harvard Can Do Better, described the experience on campus to me as a “collective airing of trauma.”
The Harvard Crimson last month reported that the institution has seen a 20 percent increase in sexual-harassment complaints since the allegations against Weinstein surfaced in October. Bill McCants, who oversees the office charged with handling claims of harassment at Harvard, attributed that rise at least in part to the #MeToo movement, citing conversations he had with students. Other schools’ Title IX officers, who are tasked with ensuring that colleges are in compliance with the federal law that’s used to address sexual harassment, alluded to similar trends on their respective campuses. The officers, who often field sexual-harassment complaints, told me anecdotally that they’ve seen more students come forward with stories of assault in the post-Weinstein era than they did in the past. Comprehensive empirical data on recent sexual-harassment reporting rates aren’t yet available because the institutions generally don’t collect and analyze that information until the end of each school year.