New Thoughts On Campus Assaults

We have been writing about campus sexual assaults for close to 10 years now. In that time we have seen ideas come and go with lawmakers all the way up to the White House chiming in on what should be done. In all that time there has been not one single year where the statistics have changed. There is no campus in the United States that can be assumed to be 100% safe.

In today’s article we will discuss a new proposal that may provide an answer-one we have been espousing for years.

In this opinion piece from the Detroit news recently they talk about a bill introduced into Congress recently that would require the police to handle campus sexual assaults. Three Republican representatives are sponsoring the bill that would remove the discretionary element of reporting college rapes and require university officials to bring in law enforcement immediately.

Colleges and universities are the only institutions where this felony offense of rape bypasses law enforcement. This is something that we have been saying for years. Colleges are not equipped to conduct a felony criminal investigation, nor are they capable of acting as judge and jury. As we have seen all too often, the allegations of victims are not handled in a serious matter, or the opposite, where in the proceedings the alleged attacker is denied due process.

In the article the author says Congress is not the right venue for adoption of this law but rather the states should handle it. The op-ed piece also says that most of the congressional action has produced a flurry of laws that are not particularly useful in addressing the issue of campus sexual assaults.

This recent Washington Post Poll shows an overwhelming “91 percent of likely voters believe that the justice system should oversee judgments in college sexual misconduct or assault cases. Just 30 percent of respondents believed that college administrators should be responsible for deciding if students are guilty in such cases.”

As of this writing, the U.S. Education Department requires colleges to take the lead in investigating allegations of campus sexual assaults and to report data on the number of incidents each year. At most US college campuses administrators play a leading role in handling sexual assault cases involving students-something that we feel they are ill-equipped to do.

A recent Washington Post Kaiser Foundation poll found that 20% of all college age women will be sexually assaulted while they’re in school. And the topic has received lots of national publicity in the last year or two leading critics to raise questions about how well-equipped colleges are when it comes to investigating, prosecuting and judging what are normally complex criminal cases.

Robert Green, who led the survey, said “that the results show that sexual assault is a significant issue and that many people want to change how it is handled at the nation’s colleges.”

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and State Police superintendent Joseph D’Amico announced a special unit for sexual assaults. That is the latest attempt to combat campus sexual assaults.

The new Sexual Assault Victims Unit will have a team of senior and experienced state police investigators that will have two main duties. The first is to provide investigative assistance to college and local police who are investigating campus sexual assaults; and second, training law enforcement to include campus police and the college community.

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Share with us, if you would, any firsthand knowledge you have of campus sexual assaults. Don’t be bashful! Chime in now.