College Campus Assaults-Where Are We Headed?

When we raised the question about your daughter’s safety in college
we quoted a Time magazine article from May 2014 that called America’s campuses hazardous places for young women especially those just beginning their college experience.

To some that may seem like an oxymoron. When you think about a college campus most people see idyllic places where nothing bad could happen. Unfortunately, it is quite the opposite. We documented, along with several government agencies, that somewhere between 25 and 30% of all college-age women are victims of sexual predators.

In another story about Investigating Campus Sexual Assaults, we came to the conclusion that “the question of who should investigate campus assaults is a long way from being resolved.”

“In so many cases the victims do not want to testify against the perpetrators who are fellow classmates.

The fear of publicity of the trial is another reason why victims don’t want to cooperate or even tell the police. Peer pressure is enormous to keep quiet. There is a fear that if there is mandatory reporting to police that more students will keep quiet and not report the crime.

The University setting is much friendlier to the victim than a law enforcement investigation which can be brutal.”

This November 2014 updated media fact sheet from the World Health Organization showed that 35% of women worldwide have experienced either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in her lifetime.

The Washington Post and Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation teamed up in a New Survey Of 1000 College Students which revealed the same startling statistic that 20% of young women who attended college during the past four years say that they were sexually assaulted. The poll which is one of the most comprehensive to date on an issue roiling the nation’s colleges provides further evidence that sexual assault is often connected to factors deeply woven into campus culture-namely Greek life and alcohol. Many of the victims said their assailants used force or threats of force or that they were incapacitated- usually by alcohol.

What is your view on campus assaults? Are they over/under exaggerated?

And according to this Boston Globe story, there is a lawsuit claiming that universities and colleges are not suited to conduct campus assault investigations. We might add that we have been making that assertion for years. That story alleges that law enforcement agencies generally don’t pursue criminal charges in campus rape cases. Victims frequently have to live alongside their attackers-some even attending the same classes. For now, schools are treading water in a type of proceeding that they just aren’t equipped to conduct.

Late last year the Univ. of  Virginia became ground zero for the debate about sexual assaults on campus. Gov. Terry McAuliffe wants to make Virginia a national leader in combating sexual violence on college campuses. State leaders in Virginia established a task force that produced a 107-page report with 21 recommendations. Among them is a requirement for colleges and universities to formalize agreements with local law enforcement officials on preventing and responding to sexual assaults.

Gov. McAuliffe formed the task force months after the White House created a similar panel. He admitted that the problem of campus sexual assaults has received more attention because of the title IX investigations involving several Virginia schools.

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In my article about ‘Who Should Investigate Campus Sexual Assaults’ we came to the conclusion that “the question is a long way from being resolved.”

What factors are involved in campus assaults? Should universities be involved in investigating them? Share your opinion about this hot topic.