Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

College Sexual Assaults: US Campuses' Failures Seen as 'Call to Action'

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

College Sexual Assaults: US Campuses' Failures Seen as 'Call to Action'

Article excerpt

Despite stepped up attention in recent years to sexual assaults on college campuses, many colleges are failing to follow some of the most basic practices for responding to and preventing such attacks. That's the conclusion of a first-of-its kind national survey released Wednesday by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) of Missouri.

"If we're going to turn the tide against sexual violence, survivors must be protected, empowered, and given the confidence that if they make the difficult choice to report a crime, they will be treated with respect and taken seriously," Senator McCaskill, a former sex-crimes prosecutor, said in a statement. "These results should serve as a call to action to our colleges and universities to tackle this terrible crime."

Among the findings of the survey of 440 campuses, representing more than 5 million students:

- Forty-one percent have not conducted a single sexual-offense investigation in the past five years. Among schools that reported more than zero sexual offenses to the Department of Education, however, only nine percent had conducted fewer investigations than the number of crimes reported.

- Many campuses fail to encourage the reporting of sexual assaults. Forty-nine percent do not provide a 24-hour reporting hotline and 66 percent do not provide an online reporting option.

- Twenty percent provide no sexual-assault awareness training for faculty and staff; 31 percent provide no training for students.

- Many campuses do not follow recommended practices for adjudicating complaints of sexual assault. Just over one-quarter have students participating on disciplinary boards, which experts say can create privacy concerns and conflicts of interest. …

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