>NPR story on how colleges fail sexual assault victims


Above is Laura Dunn’s interview with The Center for Public Integrity about her sexual assault while attending college. NPR had an excellent story about the organization’s study of sexual assaults on campus. Public colleges and the government agency that oversees them, the report concluded, often fails to protect sexual assault victims. I heard it last week on my drive to work and I was captivated–and livid–at these schools’ failures.

Here’s an overview of the study’s findings:

-Colleges almost never expel men who are found responsible for sexual assault. Reporters at CPI discovered a database of about 130 colleges and universities given federal grants because they wanted to do a better job dealing with sexual assault. But the database shows that even when men at those schools were found responsible for sexual assault, only 10 to 25 percent of them were expelled.

-The U.S. Department of Education has failed to aggressively monitor and regulate campus response to sexual assault. The department has the authority to fine schools that fail to report crime on campus. In 20 years, the department has used that power just six times. And the department can also find that a school has violated a law that prevents discrimination against women. But between 1998 and 2008, the department ruled against just five universities out of 24 resolved complaints.

-Colleges are ill-equipped to handle cases of sexual assault. Most of the time, alcohol is involved. Local prosecutors are reluctant to take these cases, so they often fall to campus judicial systems to sort through clashing claims of whether the sex was consensual or forced. 

While in school, I worked on the school newspaper and I got a chance to talk with a registered nurse on campus who was active with informing women about rape, sexual abuse in relationship, etc. I remember interviewing her about her efforts and she said the school’s health center saw a steady number of women who said they were raped. The downside, this woman told me, is these women rarely ever pressed charges against their attackers. 

I’m going to save my rant about rape culture and this country’s failure to protect rape victims and its refusal to educate people about rape for another post. I thought this would be a good time for people to discuss what they feel about the findings. 

What’s been your experience on college campuses? Have you ever known anyone to have been raped and did not alert the police? Have you heard any stories of people being raped on campus? Have you heard any discussions about certain people on campus who were allegedly rapists?