Tag Archives: higher education

Why Title IX is critical to sexual harassment cases at colleges and universities

Title IX is a critical federal law. Almost every person in the United States (citizen or non-citizen – it applies to both) is protected by Title IX at some point in their life, be it during grade school, high school, or higher education.  Furthermore, Title IX applies to everyone who is connected to federally-funded education, from staff to students, and from presidents to professors. However, while Title IX is a well-written law, the failures appear in application and enforcement, typically by educational institutions ill-prepared to dealing with sexual violence or sexual harassment despite their legal mandates.

Here are some sobering statistics and thoughts, courtesy of TitleIX.info, that highlight how much work needs to be done:

  • 8 in 10 students experience some form of harassment during their school years, and more than 1 in 4 experience it often;
  • Girls are more likely than boys to experience sexual harassment (56% v. 40%), but boys are more likely to be harassed today than in 1994; and
  • Victims of sexual harassment are impacted deeply.

If you have any questions about this blog, or would like to speak to someone about sexual violence and harassment, please contact us today.

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Your school’s role in addressing sexual violence under Title IX

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.

Colleges failing to properly investigate sexual assault

A new study has found that around 40% of colleges have failed to investigate a single incident of sexual assault on their campuses in the last five years.  Furthermore, 51% of colleges admit they have no hotline to report sexual assaults, and 10% have no Title IX coordinator.

These findings come after a survey conducted by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo, who is focusing on campus sexual assaults after passing legislation earlier in 2014 to confront rape in the military.  To read the full report, click here.

Title IX and the Clery Act require colleges to report, investigate and prevent campus sexual assault, but these figures highlight a systematic failure to act in a significant portion of colleges. In the survey, colleges also showed a tendency to report sexual assault but not investigate it. The investigation process itself also remains highly fraught with many colleges not permitting the involvement of the victim in the case, while others involve a student body to adjudicate, leading to major privacy concerns and potentially discouraging student to report assault if it ends up under peer review.

There remains a significant lack of training and education to teach staff and students about sexual assault. 20% of colleges fail to provide sexual assault training for their staff, 31% fail to provide training for their students and 30% fail to provide training for on-campus security or police.

If you have any questions about sexual assault on campus or Title IX, please contact us today.

All statistics are from July 9, 2014 report issued by United States Senator Claire McCaskill.