Institutions Must Change How They Handle Sexual Assaults
Sexual assault at universities is a real problem, and it is more common than you might think. One in every five women has reported being a victim of sexual assault while in college. Because not all assaults are reported, the number of sexual assaults is likely much higher than the data indicates.
Currently, universities respond to assaults in unexpected ways. Colleges are terrible at compiling data from university police or local law enforcement. The penalties for assault are lax: punishments range from a one-day suspension (Yale University) to being assigned to write a paper about your actions (University of Colorado).
What colleges and universities have been doing
The Obama administration changed Title IX policy in 2011 to require that any school receiving federal funding conduct a full investigation into any allegation of sexual assault. Any public outcry was taken seriously.
That sounds like a good plan, but anyone accused of sexual assault now has to prove their innocence “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The accused bore the burden of proof. The burden of proof does not allow for due process; rather, it increases the likelihood of someone being found guilty.
How colleges and universities should change their policies regarding sexual assaults
Sexual assault is more than just consensual sex after a few drinks. Even if one partner refuses to give explicit consent, sexual intrusion occurs.
Sexual assault includes the following:
- Unwanted sexual groping and touching
- forcibly performing sexual acts on another person
Sexual assaults in schools must be handled differently.
Colleges and universities must develop a clear definition of sexual assault and outline the consequences of such behavior. The responsibilities of the school do not end there. They must muster the courage to follow their policies and procedures.
In addition, schools must have the authority to pursue rapists and other perpetrators of sexual assault, and they must be willing to do so.
Sexual assault must not be tolerated. Universities can put a stop to it on their campuses.