Guardian Self Defense and Security Blog

Colleges Get Poor Grades On Campus Assaults

Here's a story from the Huffington Post on the pitiful grades that most colleges got when judged on Campus Assaults. This may be young college students first encounter with the bureaucracy. To combat the red tape and lack of transparency, student activists have called on their peers, allied faculty members, the federal government, and organizations like SAFER to speak out in support of survivors and demand stronger, survivor-oriented college sexual assault policies. The findings of the Campus Accountability Project speak volumes about the deficiencies of existing campus sexual assault policies. • On average, the nearly 300 policies assessed in the database received a D+ grade with 80 percent of the policies receiving a grade of C or lower. No policy received a higher grade than B+. • Nearly one-third of the policies did not fully comply with the Jeanne Clery Act -- compliance with which is required by federal law in order for colleges and universities to be eligible to participate in federal financial aid programs. • Only 40 percent of the policies mentioned the employment of a full-time staff member dedicated to providing sexual assault prevention and education programming for students. • Less than one in five policies provided amnesty clauses for underage survivors who were drinking or survivors who were using other drugs at the time of their assault. • And, less than one-third of the policies assessed in the database stated that a survivor's dress and past sexual history may not be discussed during disciplinary proceedings. While these policy shortcomings are undoubtedly problematic, they also create opportunities for administrators to centralize student needs in the reform of their institution's sexual assault policy. By holding open forums to obtain student input or by inviting anti-rape student activists to co-author new or reformed policies, administrators can better incorporate the needs of students into formal policy. What does it look like for campuses to have comprehensive, survivor-oriented sexual assault policies? There are key steps to creating safer campuses: • Provide free emergency contraception to sexual assault survivors via the institution's health center; • Increase primary prevention efforts and create more opportunities for students to engage meaningfully in primary prevention activities like bystander intervention training; • Ensure policies are accessible. This means they should be easy to find on the school's website, readable, and comprehensive; • Inclusion of amnesty clauses for survivors who may have been in violation of another school policy at the time of their assault; • And, total compliance with the Jeanne Clery Act and Title IX to ensure accurate reporting of incidents of sexual violence on campus and the rights of survivors. These practices will help colleges and universities to develop policies that center on student needs and challenge rape culture on their campus. Most young women on a college campus know that the best defense against any kind assault on campus is a self-defense product fits nonlethal in nature such as a pepper spray.
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