For this week’s roundup we bring you three perspectives on campus sexual violence we believe are well-worth reading.
This sobering piece from Inside Higher Ed is a reminder that although it may currently be receiving less attention in the media, domestic violence on college campuses is every bit the problem sexual assault is. 20% of students have “experienced domestic violence with a current partner,” and college-aged women are more likely than any other age group to experience intimate partner violence. Fortunately, it also reports on proactive steps being taken by colleges and universities to combat domestic violence amongst their student populations, pointing to the suspension of athletes accused of or arrested for domestic violence, new Department of Education rules requiring schools to report domestic violence statistics, and schools that are offering support to victim/survivors, raising awareness, and encouraging bystander intervention to help prevent violent incidents. It also points out that domestic and dating violence can be a violation of Title IX because it often involves sexual harassment, including sexual violence.
That’s a question more and more people have been asking in recent months, as more and more stories about sexual assault cases on college campuses, and the sometimes hideous mishandling of those cases by school administrators, dominate headlines. In this opinion piece for Time Foundation for Individual Rights in Education Senior Vice President Robert Shibley argues in favor of policies that would encourage or even require schools to bring more sexual assault cases to the police. Shibley claims that schools are ill-equipped to investigate and adjudicate offenses that would be felonies if tried in the criminal justice system and that law enforcement is the only apparatus through which obviously dangerous sexual predators can be removed from society at large. He argues compellingly that it would be in everyone’s interest if local law enforcement were better trained and equipped to investigate and bring to justice perpetrators of sexual violence. On the other side of the debate is the Politico piece linked to above, co-penned by Elizabeth Deutsch and Alexandra Brodsky, founding co-director of Know Your IX. They investigate the history of sexual harassment and violence and Title IX and argue that while law enforcement has an important role to play in preventing and investigating campus sexual violence, school administrators are an equally crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to ensuring that victim/survivors and potential victim/survivors have the access to federally-funded education they are guaranteed by law. As Deutsch and Brodsky point out, police do not have the power to switch a student’s dorm, punish emotional abuse, or any of a number of solutions open to administrators.
As part of a piece documenting the history of sexual assault on college campuses, NPR spoke to Mary Koss, one of the first researchers to investigate campus sexual violence and the first person to report that 1 in 4 women will be raped while in college. Koss spoke about some of the most disturbing findings she’s come across in her decades of research on the subject, which she describes as a “list of ‘OMG’ experiences.” Such “OMG experiences” include the revelation that 7.7 percent of the male students surveyed admitted to having had or attempted to have forced sex and, perhaps far worse that hardly any of those men considered what they had done or attempted to do a crime. In the piece Koss also speaks about school’s reactions to sexual assault and how a lack of consequences for the crime can contribute to its prevalence and the attitudes revealed by the “OMG experiences” described above.