Report Shows Colleges Don’t Do Enough to Prevent and Respond to Sexual Violence


On July 9, a U.S. congressional subcommittee issued a report that assessed how colleges and universities are doing in reporting, investigating and responding to sexual violence. Senator Claire McCaskill commissioned the report, which is based on a national survey of more than 300 four-year schools —including for-profit and non-profit institutions, community colleges and many of the country's largest public and private universities.

The report contained some surprising, and rather distressing, findings:

  • More than 40% of schools have not investigated an incident of sexual violence in the last five years;
  • Law enforcement officers at 30% of schools do not receive training in how to respond to reports of sexual violence;
  • Approximately 73% of schools do not have protocols for working with local law enforcement agencies in responding to sexual violence;
  • More than 20% of schools give the athletic department oversight of sexual-assault cases involving student athletes;
  • About 10% of schools do not have a Title IX coordinator to investigate claims of sexual misconduct;
  • Only 16% of schools have conducted campus climate surveys to determine how prevalent sexual assault is on their campus; and
  • Approximately 20% of schools do not provide sexual-assault response training for faculty and staff members, and 31% of schools do not provide sexual-assault prevention and response training for students.

These findings reveal that many colleges and universities may not be following the law or using best practices. For instance, federal regulations require all schools to appoint a Title IX coordinator to oversee compliance efforts and to coordinate investigations, but at least a tenth of schools have not designated such a person. Likewise, federal law requires all schools to conduct an investigation if they know or reasonably should have known about an incident of sexual violence. Statistically, one in five undergraduate women will be a victim of sexual violence during their college careers. Taking this into consideration, it is difficult to believe that over 40% of schools have not experienced an incident of sexual violence in the last five years. More likely, the truth is that incidents of sexual violence are either going unreported or are not being investigated in accordance with the law.

The impact of the survey will only serve to strengthen the federal government's resolve in enforcing Title IX, which received a lot of attention earlier this year when the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (SaVE Act) went into effect and the White House released guidelines for protecting students from sexual violence. Senator McCaskill already plans to use the data from her report to support a bill that will strengthen disciplinary proceedings on college campuses.

WeComply's Preventing Sexual Misconduct/Title IX training courses instruct faculty, staff, teaching assistants and students how to prevent and respond to sexual violence on campus.

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