Sexual assault on college campuses, and consent issues in general, have been prevalent topics in the news. CNN reports that 23% of female college students experience some form of unwanted sexual contact. This contact ranges from kissing to touching to rape, and is carried out by force or threat of force, or while the victim is incapacitated due to the effects of alcohol or drugs.
This information sharply contradicts statistics reported by colleges: according to this article in Chronicle of Higher Education, nine out of 10 colleges reported no rapes at all on their campuses in 2014. The article suggests that these statistics are likely inaccurate for several reasons:
- Students may not feel comfortable reporting rape, or the schools do not have adequate procedures in place to assist students in coming forward after a sexual assault.
- Even if a school does have a good system in place, victims may find the process too intimidating.
- Rapes are not being properly counted or reported. Under the Student Right to Know and Campus Security Act—better known as the Clery Act—which established the campus crime reporting law, only incidents occurring on campus property must be reported. Assaults which take place off-campus won't be included in that school's reporting numbers.
- Complaints may go unreported due to lack of communication among campus officials.
- Sexual assaults are often disclosed to people who are not obligated to report these crimes, such as pastors or professional counselors.
In response to this growing problem, the American Law Institute has assembled a group of experts to set guidelines, outline best practices, and try to clarify the currently ambiguous federal compliance process. The experts include college leaders, sexual assault victims' advocates, and legal experts.
Principles to be addressed include:
- Victim assistance
- Relations between campus officials and law enforcement
- Adjudication, or the legal dispute resolution process, of cases
In addition to establishing what to do, the panel will also discuss methods of implementation and practice. While the group understands the urgent need for these guidelines, they must also handle the subject carefully and deliberately due to its sensitive nature.
To obtain a better understanding of this issue, perform a search from the Welcome Page in HeinOnline for "campus sexual assault"~10 OR "campus rape"~10. This will search for either the words campus, sexual and assault within 10 words of one another, OR campus and rape within 10 words of each other. Use the facets on the left side of the screen to refine results by collection, section type, or date. Sort results by Number of Times Cited by Articles to view the most-cited material first:
Select the Law Journal Library facet to view only scholarly articles that contain your search criteria, and change Sort By to relevance to view the results that best match your search criteria:
To research the controversial consent issue, perform a Welcome Page search for sex* AND "affirmative consent" to find on-point material:
We plan to follow the American Law Institute's progress on this important matter, and we will keep our readers informed. The Feminist Majority Foundation offers a valuable list of hotlines and resources for sexual assault victims.
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