Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

McCaskill Criticizes Colleges and Universities on Sex Assault

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

McCaskill Criticizes Colleges and Universities on Sex Assault

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON * Many colleges and universities are failing in how they handle sexual violence among students, according to Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who released on Wednesday a survey of colleges and universities.

But the American Council on Education, which represents more than 1,700 colleges and university presidents, was "greatly disappointed" in a survey that was not balanced and draws unwarranted conclusions, the organization's general counsel said.

That pushback could mean that bipartisan legislation by McCaskill and other senators will receive heavy scrutiny from the nation's colleges and universities.

Last month, ACE President Molly Corbett Broad, the former president of the University of North Carolina, wrote a letter to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee asking that any legislation on sexual assault on campus provide more "clarity and consistency" as to how campuses should treat overlapping sex- crime laws and Title IX, the federal law banning discrimination based on gender, and provide funding for more research and enforcement.

McCaskill said she would like to help provide that clarity and said her legislation was likely to include funding. But she may not find a ready ally in ACE, based on the organization's reaction to her survey.

The shortcomings on campus, McCaskill said, range from failing to have the federally mandated Title IX designated coordinator, to failing to follow federal law requiring institutions that receive claims of sexual assault to have a process to adjudicate those claims, to giving athletic departments oversight in cases of sexual violence involving student athletes.

She said the fact that 20 percent of campuses reported giving athletic departments oversight of sexual violence cases involving student athletes was "bordering on outrageous."

McCaskill said that roughly 40 percent of the schools that responded to her office's survey "have not reported a single investigation in the past five years," despite a Centers for Disease Control 2012 study showing that one in five undergraduate women has been the victim of "attempted or completed sexual violence during college."

"That means they are either in denial or they are incompetent, because there is no way that at 41 percent of our campuses there were no sexual assaults over the past five years," McCaskill said.

Her survey also found that more than 20 percent of universities provide no training in sexual assault for faculty and staff, and that more than 30 percent did not do so for students. …

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