Swift, Responsible Action Needed on Campus Sexual Violence

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Sexual violence against women is rampant at colleges and universities. Around 10 million1 young women are currently enrolled in college and they are eager to pursue their chosen majors and prepare for their futures. Instead, these talented women learn that they are just as likely to be sexually abused during their college years as to graduate with honors2,3. The campus leaders' response to allegations and findings of sexual assault teach them how little their personal safety is valued, a lesson their tuition dollars should never pay for. 

In the case of Lena Sclove, a Brown University student who filed administrative charges under Title IX and the Clery Act against the university in connection with findings of sexual misconduct, campus leaders' one-year suspension of a known perpetrator of sexual misconduct reaffirmed this unthinkable lesson, and in the process, robbed her and other emerging women of their confidence, dignity, and the education they signed up for. How can a top university allow a known perpetrator of sexual misconduct to return to its campus, ever? How have we arrived at a point where sexual misconduct on campus is not taken more seriously?

As a business executive and a mother of a second-year college student and two other daughters entering college in the near future, I'm calling for swift, responsible answers to these questions. We need revised protocols on properly handling allegations of sexual assaults, stronger punishment to create a safe learning environment for our daughters (and sons), and innovative prevention tools and training. For those campus officials who refuse to act responsibly or who drag their feet, legal actions must be taken. Anything less devalues and compromises our emerging women on college campuses and puts them at unnecessary risk. This cannot be tolerated. We owe them more. #1is2Many

1. College Enrollment Statistics, National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics (2013), available at http://statisticbrain.com/college-enrollment-statistics/.

2. One in five women is sexually assaulted while attending college. Not Alone: The First Report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault, Office of the Vice President and the White House Council on Women and Girls (2013), available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/report_0.pdf.

3. 20 per cent of college students graduate with honors. The Brown Degree: Latin Honors, Brown University, available at http://www.brown.edu/academics/college/degree/latin-honors.

by Loria B. Yeadon,

Legal Momentum Board Member