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Sexual Assault and Campus Housing: Know Your Rights

Sandra Park,
Former Senior Staff Attorney,
ACLU Women's Rights Project
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September 29, 2010

The New York Times recently reported that sex offense rates at the campuses and surrounding areas of 12 colleges and universities (including the eight schools in the Ivy League) are 83 percent higher than the overall national average.

This statistic once again highlights the importance of a school’s response to rape. Federal law holds a college or university legally liable when it knows about and ignores sexual harassment or assault in its programs. Because a student who has been subjected to violence or abuse is likely to live near the perpetrator, a key component of any effective response to sexual assault is providing safe housing. However, many schools fail to transfer students into more secure housing or to enforce restraining orders after an assault, jeopardizing students’ safety and rights to equal educational opportunity.

The ACLU Women’s Rights Project has worked with Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER) to create this new fact sheet on the housing rights of college students who experience sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. Schools must adopt policies that proactively address the housing needs of students who have experienced abuse on campus.

If you are a student who has faced problems with your housing because you have experienced sexual assault or harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking, please share your story with the ACLU. Our website also has other legal resources on sexual assault.

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