Here’s the latest news about college sexual assault and prevention efforts from the last week.
An examination of the 21 Clery Act fines that have been imposed by the Department of Education on colleges and universities since 2000 shows that the fines universities actually pay are, almost invariably, lower than the amount initially proposed. Of the 21 fines, 17 ended up being lower than the amount initially proposed by the Education Department, with an average reduction of more than 25% and the Pittsburgh Technical Institute receiving the largest reduction of 50% of the proposed $110,000 fine, ultimately paying $55,000. While this trend may seem at first glance to be evidence that the Education Department is going easy on Clery Act violators, campus safety advocate Daniel Carter points out that the reductions are usually the result of settlements between schools and the government, which, like out-of-court settlements in the criminal justice system, typically benefit both parties. Carter suggests that a more important issue to be addressed is the need for more transparency in Clery Act investigations, which imposes the additional penalty of bad publicity.
Representatives from 64 colleges and universities, researchers, advocates, and federal officials were among the several hundred people gathered last week at Dartmouth College for the Dartmouth Summit on Sexual Assault. Attendees included Lynn Rosenthal, the White House adviser on violence against women, who issued this challenge to the audience: “It’s no small thing that you are undertaking . . . [but] if we get this right . . . we will have a cohort of college students who leave school knowing that sexual assault is unacceptable.”
Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary for the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, issued a warning to schools that do not comply with Title IX and Clery Act requirements to address campus sexual violence. She is willing to do what has never been done before to punish noncompliance — withhold federal funds.
David Lisak, a researcher and forensic consultant, helped organize the summit. Lisak is an expert on interpersonal violence and his research found that serial rapists are responsible for a large percentage of campus sexual assaults. Calling on higher education leadership to step up, Lisak said that campus officials “need to have budgets they can rely on to build comprehensive, multiyear programs.”
Laura Dunn, survivor and activist, recounted how two of her crew teammates raped her when she asked them to escort her from one party to another. She called on schools to remove perpetrators from campuses because, “Sexual violence will continue until there is a cost.”
It only takes one shot and 25 seconds for this video to communicate an enormously important message about sexual assault and consent. As a bonus, it also provides a decent illustration of how to care for a friend who has had too much to drink.