College Campus Assaults
During the next few weeks, hundreds of thousands of incoming college students will attend orientations, start classes, and join an institution where an estimated 350 rapes occur annually for every 10,000 female students on campus.
Sexual assault has reached epidemic levels on college campuses, but administrators are slowly taking notice thanks to 1) the willingness of more survivors — both named and anonymous — to come forward and share their experiences, 2) collaborative efforts between students and faculty to raise awareness and develop strategies (for example, the Oxy Sexual Assault Coalition), and 3) widespread pressure stemming from complaints filed with the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights.
During the past six months a series of federal complaints were filed with the Office of Civil Rights against schools including Occidental College, the University of Southern California, the University of North Carolina, Swarthmore, Dartmouth, Berkeley, and the University of Colorado, Boulder. The complaints allege violations of the Jean Clery Act and mishandling of sexual assault cases on campus, and have resulted in multiple investigations.
Campuses must be held accountable for student safety. Many schools have taken purposeful and thoughtful steps to improve their policies; however, on many other campuses the same inadequate polices remain.
According to the National Institute of Justice, students face the highest risk of sexual assault during the first few months of the school year. With the start of the school year approaching fast it’s time to find out whether your campus has taken positive steps to improve their sexual assault prevention and response policies, and there’s a quick and easy way to ask what, exactly, they are doing.
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