Blog of Rights

New Report Shows 95% of Campus Rapes Go Unreported

By Suzanne Ito, ACLU at 12:10pm

Yesterday, Vanessa at Feministing blogged on a study by the Center for Public Integrity about sexual assault on campus. The figure of campus rapes that go unreported is 95 percent—a sad and shocking state of affairs. And for those that are reported, disciplinary actions schools take against student perpetrators include measures such as:

[…]making them send a letter of apology to their victim or write a research report on sexual violence. That's right, their punishment for sexual assault is to write a research paper. Other small sanctions are suspensions, social probation or counseling, despite the Justice Department's Office on Violence Against Women's recommendations to its college grant recipients to train their judicial panels to give "appropriate sanctions, such as expulsion." (emphasis hers)

[…]And the Education Department, which is responsible for enforcing [...] Title IX, rarely investigates complaints of botched school proceedings. When cases do go forward by their Office of Civil Rights, there are rarely any sanctions made against institutions.

Title IX, of course, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. From our Title IX and Sexual Assault fact sheet (PDF):

Under Title IX, discrimination on the basis of sex can include sexual harassment, rape, and sexual assault. A college or university that receives federal funds may be held legally responsible when it knows about and ignores sexual harassment or assault in its programs or activities. The school can be held responsible in court whether the harassment is committed by a faculty member, staff, or a student. In some cases, the school must pay the victim money damages.

The ACLU's Women's Rights Project has worked with Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER) to put together this package of resources for students who want to be proactive about bringing their schools in full compliance with Title IX protections. There's a podcast series featuring ACLU attorney Ariela Migdal and SAFER's Margaret Mikkelsen, and a summary of past sexual assault lawsuits, which should make any college administrator sit up and take notice of the problem.

And if you want to learn more — and we know you do — be sure to check out the Center for Public Integrity's site on sexual assault on campus. Ariela and ACLU of Washington Legal Director Sarah Dunne were interviewed for an article featured today.

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