Colleges and universities rightly face increasing scrutiny about how they respond to victims of sexual assault. Under pressure from campaigners, victims and advocates, the White House has led a charge to combat what can be described as the systematic failings of college and university administrators. The Department of Education has released a list of over 50 colleges and universities nationwide now under review for their mishandling of sexual assault. Senator Claire McCaskill (Mo) recently issued a comprehensive survey that detailed some shocking statistics and was complete with the subtitle “How too many institutions of higher education are failing to protect students” (you can read our blog on the report here). The White House also initiated a task force to look at sexual assault and launched a new informational website, www.NotAlone.gov.
So, what are a school’s responsibilities? If a student reports an incident of sexual violence to the school, the school must respond promptly and effectively and take the reasonable steps to resolve the situation. A criminal investigation does not relieve the school from its duties under Title IX. During the investigation, they must ensure the safety of the student.
However, many schools have been found unable to provide the proper resources or lack qualified individuals to deal with the report of sexual violence. As detailed in Senator McCaskill’s report, most school systems are insufficient and fail to effectively support victims. Even the presence of a trained Title IX coordinator is often detrimental, as they have been found culpable of protecting the school rather than the victim.
Many schools inadequately deal with reports of sexual assault and sexual harassment. If you are a victim of sexual assault, or know a victim, and you feel your school has failed to help or you just want to know what you should expect, please contact us today.