Dear Commons Community,
As reported by the press last week, many colleges and universities “are failing to comply with the law and best practices” on handling sexual violence, according to a new report, which found more than 40 percent have failed to do any rape investigations in the past five years. The sobering news comes from Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., whose staff did a survey of 440 four-year institutions of higher education and found problems affecting nearly every stage of responding to sexual violence.
Among the issues:
- Approximately one in five undergraduate women has been the victim of sexual violence or attempted sexual violence in college. Despite that prevalence, about 41 percent of schools surveyed have not conducted a single investigation into assaults in the past five years.
- Annual confidential student surveys, one of the best ways to get an idea of sexual assault issues on campus, are only being done at 16 percent of the schools.
- Only 51 percent of the institutions offer a hotline for survivors to report assault, and only 44 percent give the option to report sexual assaults online. About eight percent don’t allow confidential reporting.
- Staff are not always trained adequately: More than 20 percent of the institutions provided sexual assault response training for faculty and staff.
The report is putting higher education on notice to clean-up its act in responding to victims of rape and sexual violence.
The New York Times had a featured story of a young freshmen who was allegedly raped by members of the football team at Hobart and Williams Smith Colleges in upstate New York. The article goes into great detail of the review investigation and makes the case that the victim was victimized again by the process.
Higher education needs to do the right thing in both pursuing sexual predators and protecting victims while doing so.