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Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, May 8, 2015

For this week’s roundup we have two different articles focusing on different aspects of the data released last Tuesday by the Department of Education and a list of seven things to know about CASA from the National Law Review.

Good News: The Number of Reported Sexual Assaults is Up

The data released by the Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Federal Student Aid office (FSA) last Tuesday in response to a request from Senators Barbara Boxer, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Tim Kaine, confirmed a trend we’ve noted earlier —the number of reported sexual assaults on college campuses has been and continues to increase dramatically. In 2009, 3,300 assaults were reported. In 2013, there were over 6,000 reports. As we and others have covered extensively, this is a positive development in the fight against campus sexual violence, suggesting that increased awareness has made students feel more comfortable reporting incidents of sexual violence than they did in the past. However, as pointed out by this article from the Christian Science Monitor, the number of reported assaults still trails far behind the numbers reported in anonymous surveys, indicating there is still much work to do.

Bad News: The Length of OCR Investigations is Also Up

One unfortunate side effect of the federal government’s aggressive efforts to address campus sexual violence is a dramatic increase in the average length of Title IX investigations. The same report discussed in the above story reveals that the average OCR investigation now takes 1,469 days—around four years, meaning that even a student who filed a complaint as a freshman would graduate before the investigation was resolved. As this piece from Bloomberg Business points out, there are serious consequences of an investigation dragging on that long—solutions to the problems that led to the complaint are delayed, the facts of the pertinent cases become more difficult to ascertain, and victim/survivors are denied closure. However, as the renewed focus on sexual assault leads to more and more complaints and investigations, the OCR has seen its budget cut — reducing its full-time staff from 1,148 to 544 between 1980 and 2014 — contributing to delays and a backlog of cases.  The President’s budget proposal and Senators Kaine, Boxer, and Gillibrand have called for increased funding for the OCR.

The National Law Review Tells You What You Need to Know About CASA

If you follow this blog regularly you’ll have seen this analysis of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, the proposed law with bipartisan support that would introduce new, more stringent regulations for how colleges and universities handle sexual harassment and violence. The article above, published by the National Law Review, highlights seven aspects of the proposed law you should be aware of, including increased fines, a Campus Climate Survey requirement, and broader reporting requirements.

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Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, April 25, 2014

We want to use this week’s Roundup to catch up with a few of the issues we’ve reported on over the last few months. Below we have three updates, follow-ups, and rebuttals.

Why U.S. News Should Absolutely Not Factor Sexual Assault Into Their College Rankings

In last week’s Roundup we wrote about an open letter, signed by a dozen members of the House of Representatives, calling on U.S. News to consider “violence statistics in annual Clery reports” and information such as whether or not a school has “been found to be in violation of Title IX provisions regarding sexual violence” when compiling their annual ranking of American colleges and universities. This week, Annie E. Clark, co-founder of End Rape on Campus, published a thorough explanation of the pitfalls of that plan on the Huffington Post. Clark pointed out that, among other problems, praising schools for having fewer reported sexual assaults could have the counter-intuitive but unfortunate effect of punishing schools that make it easier for survivors to report assaults and rewarding schools that “discourage reporting and intentionally misrepresent their campuses.”

Colleges Combat Unpaid Internships

Last month we reported on a number of recent court decisions that ruled unpaid internships illegal. Now, various schools are taking their own steps to ensure that their own students don’t fall victim to what many see as an exploitive and increasingly common practice. Some schools are removing unpaid internships from their job boards altogether, while others are requiring that employers guarantee that their internship programs meet the guidelines of the Department of Labor before they post them.

White House Task Force to Make Its Formal Recommendations

We’ve been covering the White House task force on campus sexual assault since its inception. Now, the task force is ready to make their formal recommendations, which will be published next Tuesday (check back here for our analysis next week).  In the meantime, you can peruse a letter to the White house signed by seven senators including Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), which recommends requiring anonymous standardized surveys of campus sexual assault for all colleges and universities, creating a searchable public database of all Title IX and Clery Act complaints and investigations, and creating a single position in the Department of Education to handle all Clery Act and Title IX violations involving physical violence or criminal activity.

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