Congressional Report On College Campus Assaults

As young women who are about to enter College sit down with their parents to start investigating institutions of higher learning about where to go, they do so with a backdrop of a frenzy of reports on College campus assaults.

Notable and distinguished publications such as U.S. News & World Report’s annual best Colleges guide that are notorious for ranking Colleges refuse to enter college campus crime into their ranking factors. Parents and students need to know this information. They certainly won’t learn it from the College or University.

The Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) which is part of the Department of Justice released a report recently that showed that:

  1. 19% of undergraduate women experienced completed or attempted sexual assault since entering College.
  2. Most of these assaults were by someone the victim knew.
  3. The culprits were often multiple offenders because they were never prosecuted.
  4. Close to 70% of all victims are drugged, drunk, or otherwise incapacitated.
  5. Less than 10% of victims actually report the crime to anyone.
  6. Only 2% of the victims actually report it to law enforcement.

Many of these statistics have been verified over and over throughout the years. But one figure is in question. For years people have quoted 20% as the number of female college students who have been assaulted at some point in their career at a University. That figure recently came under attack by conservative columnists like George Will. In his op-ed piece in the Washington Post,  Will writes “The statistics are: One in five women is sexually assaulted while in college, and only 12 percent of assaults are reported. Simple arithmetic demonstrates that if the 12 percent reporting rate is correct, the 20 percent assault rate is preposterous.”

ABC news reported some of the most alarming figures from the recent Congressional report.

  1. Over 40% of all institutions hadn’t conducted a single investigation of sexual assault in the last five years.
  2. 43% of the nation’s largest public schools allow students to sit in judgment of sexual assault cases.
  3. 22% of institutions permit athletic departments to have oversight in sexual assault cases involving student athletes.
  4. Over 30% of schools do not provide any type of sexual assault training for their students.
  5. 21% of institutions do not provide sexual assault response training to their faculty and staff.
  6. 33% of schools did not provide basic sexual assault training to the people who adjudicate claims of sexual assault.
  7. 30% of all law enforcement officials at the institutions received no training on responding to sexual violence reports.
  8. Only 16% of schools conduct surveys of students to assess attitudes towards sexual assaults on campus.
  9. The offenders were often multiple offenders.

350 institutions of higher learning were in the sample where anonymity was guaranteed in order to receive the most truthful information.

One task force recommendation that has already seen broad support is to have schools conduct anonymous climate surveys to gauge the gap between what crimes and problems are reported on campus and what students are actually experiencing.

But the report offers few firm answers for this issue.

The vast majority (70%) of all victims are drugged or drunk or otherwise incapacitated when assaulted. Consumption of alcohol by women has dramatically increased in recent years.  The Wall Street Journal reports that between 1999 and 2008  the number of young women showing up in emergency rooms for being dangerously intoxicated rose by 52%. A predator’s dream come true when it comes to sexual assault.

That, in part, accounts for why less than 10% of victims actually report the crime to anyone. The main reason for this is that young women are ashamed and afraid to report the crime. A drunken or drugged victim usually cannot remember what happened, so she makes a poor witness when it comes to identifying an assailant.

Many people blame the social environment on College Campuses: the so-called “boozing, hook up culture” that invites, almost demands, bad behavior.

To this very day, professional law enforcement (not campus police) have been kept out of the equation. If the crimes are reported, they have been kept an internal matter on campus. The reason for this is simple: MONEY. If an institution of higher learning has a reputation of having much crime on campus, enrollment will decline, and donations from corporations and graduates will decrease. No one wants to be associated with a place that has a bad reputation.

To us that raises an interesting question: ‘Is there another institution or organization anywhere that has its own rules, guidelines, and policies concerning sexual assault or violence-first-degree felonies?’ The simple answer, of course, is no. Colleges and Universities pretend to protect students but, in fact, forfeit the rights of victims to due process.

Bringing in University or College legal department lawyers who claim they want to protect students is an affront. They have one goal in mind: protect the University.

Off-campus law enforcement has crime scene investigators that collect physical evidence and people who are trained to work with victims of sexual assault while local Universities do not.

This ABC story and video on the campus sexual assault crisis reports that 55 Universities, many of them household names, are facing federal investigation because of the way they respond to students in a crisis of sexual assault. But today we learned that that number is now up to 64.

Any University or College that gets federal funding is required to report criminal activity on their campuses. A potential penalty is losing that funding. And there’s a new threat to Colleges and Universities across the country. The threat was reported by MSNBCAssistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education Catherine Lhamon. She said “that despite the fact it has never been done before, she is prepared to cut off federal funding to schools that violate Title IX, the 1972 gender equity law.” We simply say that it’s about time somebody gets serious about this issue.

There was a story in Time magazine recently that reached a startling conclusion that for young women America’s campuses are dangerous places. This has to change. Young men and women go to College to get an education and experience new things in their lives.  However, being a victim of an assault shouldn’t be one of them. It’s time for Colleges and Universities to get serious about solving this problem instead of sweeping it under the rug.

Do you know anyone, or have you personally, experienced a sexual assault on a College campus? Please share your experience. We want to hear your thoughts.