The Center for Public Integrity says there is every reason to believe that sexual assaults on campus are dramatically underreported, and it assembled a “reporter’s toolkit” to help journalists “get local” on this story.
Among the investigation’s findings:
The investigation also found that students often face barriers, including school officials who refuse to believe them, when they try to file complaints.
College judicial systems, according to the Center, are often secretive and even illegal:
“The Center has interviewed 48 experts familiar with the disciplinary process — student affairs administrators, conduct hearing officers, assault services directors, victim advocates — as well as 33 female students who have reported being raped by other students. The inquiry has included a review of records in select cases, and examinations of 10 years worth of complaints filed against institutions with the U.S. Education Department under Title IX and the Clery Act — two laws requiring schools to respond to assault claims and to offer key rights to alleged victims. The Center has also surveyed 152 crisis-services programs and clinics on or near college campuses nationwide over the past year.
“Just over half the students interviewed by the Center have reported they unsuccessfully sought criminal charges and instead had to seek justice in closed, school-run administrative proceedings that led either to academic penalties or no punishment at all for their alleged assailants, leaving them feeling betrayed by a process they say has little transparency or accountability.”
Reporting this story
Here are the Center for Public Integrity’s suggestions on how to report this story in your area:
- “Compare sexual assault numbers provided to the U.S. Department of Education against the numbers published in the school’s annual security report. Sometimes the numbers are different and those differences are red flags for Clery Act violations.
- “Collect numbers for sexual assaults from on-campus and off-campus rape crisis centers and/or student counseling centers for the last three years. Compare those numbers to Clery Act statistics submitted to the Education Department, as well as those published in the annual campus security report.
- “Find out how Clery Act crime data is collected around campus. Compare the school’s collection process against what it is required [to collect] under the Clery Act.
- “File a Freedom of Information Act request with the U.S. Department of Education to see if the school has ever been the subject of a Clery Act complaint. If there is a complaint, who originated the complaint and why? What was the Department’s response to the Clery Act complaint? Findings? Conclusions?”
How to find Title IX complaints against a school:
- “Under Title IX, sex-based discrimination can include sexual harassment, rape, and sexual assault. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) monitors Title IX compliance: www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/index.html