TIME Crime

Colleges Cut Ties with Bill Cosby Amidst Sexual Assault Allegations

Entertainer and Navy veteran Bill Cosby at a Veterans Day ceremony, Nov. 11, 2014, at the The All Wars Memorial to Colored Soldiers and Sailors in Philadelphia.
Entertainer and Navy veteran Bill Cosby at a Veterans Day ceremony, Nov. 11, 2014, at the The All Wars Memorial to Colored Soldiers and Sailors in Philadelphia. Matt Rourke—AP

U.S. colleges, dozens of which are weathering a federal investigation into the mishandling of sexual assault allegations on campus, are now distancing themselves from the entertainer

Several U.S. universities and colleges have cut ties with Bill Cosby amidst allegations that the veteran comedian drugged and raped multiple women over his decades-long career in the media spotlight.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst, where Cosby received his masters and doctorate degrees in education, asked the high-profile entertainer to leave his post as an honorary co-chairman of the school’s fundraising campaign, NBC News reports.

“Bill Cosby has agreed to resign as an honorary co-chair of UMass Amherst’s capital campaign,” said Ed Blaguszewski, a spokesman for the school, in a statement. “He no longer has any affiliation with the campaign nor does he serve in any other capacity for the university.”

Yet the University of Massachusetts Amherst had on Tuesday said there were no plans to remove Cosby from the fundraising board. The Associated Press reports that Cosby gave a benefit performance at the university in 2004 that raised $1.5 million and along with his wife has donated between $250,000 and $499,999 to the school.

Dozens of colleges, including The University of Massachusetts Amherst, are under federal investigation for mishandling sexual assault claims, and schools have been at pains this week to distance themselves from the 77-year-old celebrity and philanthropist to higher education following accusations that he serially sexually assaulted women for years.

Indeed, Boston’s Berklee College of Music also on Wednesday axed Cosby’s relationship with a scholarship named after him. Meanwhile, High Point University in North Carolina scrubbed his name from its advisory board, and Tennessee’s Freed-Hardeman University canceled plans to have him speak at a benefit dinner next month, NBC reports.

Cosby has not been charged with a crime, and his lawyer has strongly refuted all the allegations.

He remains a trustee at Philadelphia’s Temple University, where he received his undergraduate degree and also met Andrea Constand, who accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her in 2004.

TIME Education

More Time in Preschool Could Benefit Your Child, Study Finds

Schoolkids Raising Hands
Getty Images

Kids in full-day preschool programs did better than kids in part-day programs

New research suggests that young kids could benefit from more time around their peers in a classroom setting.

A new study released Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that children are better prepared for learning and social interaction in full-time preschool than in part-time programs.

Researchers looked at 1,000 low-income and ethnic-minority 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in Chicago’s Child-Parent Center Education Program and noted improvement in four of six measures of school readiness. Children placed in full-day programs showed higher scores in social development, language, math and physical health than their part-day peers, according to the study.

“You can just go so much further in all the domains of learning in a seven-hour program,” Arthur J. Reynolds, a researcher at the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis who led the study, told Bloomberg in an interview yesterday. “These 30 to 40 percent differences in preschool turn into bigger benefits over time.”

Literacy and cognition performance were not significantly affected by a longer preschool day, the study showed.

President Barack Obama has argued that spending on the nation’s youngest students will lead to better performance for children later on, and has pushed Congress to make pre-kindergarten education universal.

[Bloomberg]

TIME campus rape

UVA’s Rape Problem Will Only Be Solved When the ‘Virginia Gentleman’ Evolves

Duke v Virginia
An aerial view of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. Lance King—Getty Images

Melanie Howard has written for SELF, Glamour, Cosmopolitan and other publications.

We—alumni and students—need to examine what about the school culture has enabled a predatory culture

When you send your children to your alma mater, that shared experience becomes a bond. I could not wait to share the University of Virginia with both my children; the serpentine walls that weave under graceful magnolias behind the lawn, the white dome of the Rotunda gleaming against a blue autumn sky, the sugary warmth of a grillswith (two grilled glazed donuts topped with vanilla ice cream) devoured on The Corner in the wee hours of the morning, and the festive throngs of young men and women on Rugby Road on Friday nights.

No one wants to share a tradition of predatory violence against women. No one wants to share a legacy of rape.

Fortunately, for the vast majority of the hundreds of thousands of students who have walked across the university’s historic Lawn before and since the day I arrived in September of 1975, their memories of UVA aren’t tainted by the specter of sexual violence. That’s important to say. Most of the young men who attend or have attended the university would never condone or be complicit, let alone participate in anything remotely close to the horrors depicted in Rolling Stone’s “A Rape on Campus” article last week.

But we alumni and students who want things to change must honestly examine what about our culture has enabled a predatory few to prey on young women, apparently with relative impunity. It’s not enough to say that Florida State and Notre Dame and virtually every other university in the country has a rape problem, even it if that is also true. This is our rape problem—that of UVA alums and students—and to understand it you have to understand UVA. You have to understand the legend of the Virginia Gentleman.

Virginia’s legacy as an all-male domain, which still colors fraternity-dominated social life, hasn’t been really examined in this context. Back to 1975 for a minute. The UVA I enrolled in had only been co-ed for five years, and although 42 percent of my class was female, the majority of the total student body was still overwhelmingly male. At least during the week. On weekends fraternity parties were flooded with women from the “suitcase colleges” such as Mary Baldwin, Hollins, Mary Washington and Sweet Briar, which had been the social tradition for decades. This was not the healthiest dynamic: men basically marinating in testosterone all week long, getting wasted on the weekend and having girls delivered to their doorstep. Even with women now on campus, they were in control of the social scene.

I quickly heard never to go upstairs at a frat to use the bathroom alone, and to clear out by midnight. (I took the lyrics to the fight song “never let a Cavalier an inch above your knee” and so on as a musical warning.) There were rumors that a gang rape eerily similar to the one recounted in Rolling Stone had occurred at one frat. Even five years into co-ed-ness, some male students—mostly southern legacies—were still not happy to have women on the Grounds as peers rather than weekend dates. Many of these guys proudly declared they would never date “u-bags” as they called us.

These self-styled Virginia Gentlemen were a minority, obviously. But a highly visible minority, powerful because they knew the ropes; what to wear, what to drink, how to do “the pretzel” to the Four Tops without falling on their faces, and what frat to join. Their hereditary privilege endowed them with insider knowledge which in turn resulted in yet more privilege. This male social core occupied the top strata, which at other schools is reserved for star football and basketball players. They supposedly harkened back to an era of antebellum courtliness that not only didn’t exist in 1975, but had never existed (case in point, in 1840 drunken students shot and killed a professor who tried to curtail their revels).

The Virginia Gentleman thing could be charming. Coming from an industrial-sized 1970s public school, as I did, it was kind of a thrill to have a date who wore a coat and tie, opened the door for you and knew how to dance without pointing his finger at the ceiling and gyrating like Disco Stu. But those boys lived in an insular world, and I believe that insularity, coupled with a sense of entitlement, and fueled with excessive alcohol, enabled our particular version of the widespread college sex assault problem. They believed their own myth, and that hubris lead, repeatedly, to tragedy.

Ever since the Rolling Stone story broke, I’ve heard people say that things haven’t gotten any better at UVA over the past decades. I have to disagree, despite the terrible incidents reported in the article. Full disclosure: I have a daughter at UVA who is a feminist and a poet and not involved in Greek life, but I have a son who is a member of one of the oldest, most established Southern fraternities. His fraternity is far different from the fraternities I remember. For one thing, the chapter invites parents to many events at the house, and participates in the One in Four men’s program, which educates men in rape, and in rape intervention and support of women survivors. Despite this, my son is now afraid people see him as a rapist just because of his fraternity affiliation. That is unfair. Backlash and protests where bricks are thrown through frat windows aren’t the answer, and aren’t going to stop campus rape.

I had a frank talk about sexual assault on campus with each of my children before college. I gave my daughter all the same warnings I’d heard, along with an admonition to always travel with friends and not drink too much. With my son, I made it perfectly clear that just not being the bad guy isn’t enough. It is his duty to intervene, to assist and, when necessary, to summon the proper authorities. I think that’s how our entire university culture needs to redefine the mythical ideal of the Virginia Gentleman. He’s not some imaginary Southern aristocrat riding around on a horse with a plume in his hat. He’s not the guy with the pedigree, the right clothes, the good dance moves and the top-tier frat credentials.

He’s the good guy. He understands that brotherhood doesn’t mean supporting criminal behavior, either through actions or silence. He accepts women as peers, but acknowledges that even peers sometimes need assistance and protection. He knows that “no means no,” and so do incapacitation, hesitation and insecurity. He believes campus rape is a real problem, and he is as committed as you are to ending it. He’s the guy who helps keep you safe. And if he looks good in a coat and tie and does a mean pretzel, that is just a bonus.

Melanie Howard has written for SELF, Glamour, Cosmopolitan and other publications. She is co-author of the novel Queen of the Court and a 1979 honors graduate of the University of Virginia whose son and daughter currently attend the university. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Education

Inside Detroit’s Plan to Woo Middle-Class Parents to Its Public Schools

Detroit Public School
Detroit Public Schools has closed more than 80 schools due to severe drops in enrollment. Sarah Butrymowicz—Hechinger Report

A central office war room and customer-service tips from Target

Dara Hill diligently scribbled notes as the principal of Detroit’s Nichols Elementary-Middle School led her and several of her neighbors on a tour of the school. A room for special education students was brimming with stuffed animals, but the hallways were sparsely decorated. Work displayed in the kindergarten classroom was charming and developmentally appropriate. But why were there six students sitting to the side during gym class?

Hill has two more years before she has to pick a school for her four-year-old daughter, but she and her husband are starting their search now because she is overwhelmed by the number of options in Detroit, and underwhelmed by the quality of many of them. To help with the decision, Hill joined The Best Classroom Project, a Facebook group formed to help parents navigate Detroit’s large and under-resourced school system. Since beginning in 2013, the group has grown to more than 250 parents, a mostly middle and upper-middle class mix of life-long residents and recent transplants. Several of them care about sending their children to public schools. And they are precisely the type of people Detroit school officials need to court as the city claws its way back from bankruptcy.

Thirteen years ago, Detroit’s school system had 200,000 students. Today, it has less than 50,000. It’s saddled with a $127 million deficit and its students perform well below the rest of the state. In the 2013-14 school year, for instance, just 14.6% of Detroit third-graders and 7% of city 11th-graders passed the state math test, according to Michigan education data. And graduation rates also lag. Sixty-five percent of students graduated from Detroit public schools in four years in 2012-13. The state average is 77%.

Such numbers make it tough to convince parents like Hill, a professor of education at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, to commit to the city’s public schools. A statewide school choice system allows students in Detroit to attend any school in the district or pick from dozens of charter schools, but it also lets them apply to suburban schools. And many families with the means choose to bypass the system entirely and send their children to area private schools.

Keeping middle class families in the Detroit school system is particularly important because there are only so many of them. About 38% of Detroit households earn more than $35,000 compared to 56% of households across America, according to 2012 American Community Survey figures published by the Census Bureau. For the city to grow its tax base, the schools need to improve. But to significantly improve, the school system needs more students – and the money that comes with them.

“We recognize we’re a central anchor to the city,” says Roderick Brown, the district’s chief strategy officer and the man charged with finding ways to convince more families to pick the public school system. “Our success is tied to the success of the city.”

The War Room

Hill should be an easy mark for the school district. The daughter of German and Jamaican immigrants, she graduated from Detroit Public Schools in the 1980s and fondly remembers a time when black and white students would walk together to the Detroit Public Library after middle school. She met her husband in high school and stayed in the city after graduating, teaching first in the city and then in a nearby suburb.

She watched as Detroit continued a decline that began in the 1960s. And the city’s decades of struggle have been intertwined with those of the school system. Detroit Public Schools was first placed under state control in 1999 and then again in 2009 as test scores continued to falter. The district’s enrollment has fallen to 49,800 students as families moved or opted for charters that promised — but didn’t always deliver — better results. Nearly 40,000 students in the city now attend charter schools. Detroit Public Schools has shuttered more than 80 schools and the state has taken over 15 of the lowest performers in the past 5 years.

On top of that, in May, the district missed the deadline for applying for about $4 million in federal Head Start money because of technical problems. Officials said they would find money elsewhere to offer preschool to all students this school year, not just low-income ones, but to Hill, the incident is indicative of larger administrative problems. “There are things going on that are really good at many of the school levels, but as a district, it’s like, ‘Oh get it together,’” she said. “It just makes you wonder.”

The process of reassuring her begins in a conference room in the school system’s downtown headquarters that has been turned into a campaign-style war room. A translated quote from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” hangs on one wall, next to a poster titled., “THE QUESTION: How shall DPS compete and win the marketplace?” The answer: “Empowered DPS employee’s operating via synchronized, lean agile and leveraged work efforts.”

The business jargon is evidence of Brown’s time at General Motors, where he was a manager of strategic facilities planning at the nation’s largest automaker. He’s brought more than the lingo with him to DPS. Brown thinks in terms of markets and supply chains, and argues that along with improving academics, Detroit Public Schools also must improve the overall customer experience for students and parents. That’s why district officials invited Target to train school office workers in customer service. Among the tricks: smile when answering the phone to sound friendlier. “We didn’t do the best job of serving our existing customer base,” Brown says.

The effort to change that started in 2009, when then-Emergency Manager Robert Bobb launched an “I’m in” campaign encouraging families to enroll in Detroit Public Schools. Since then, improvements such as universal pre-kindergarten and increased test scores, have been advertised with flyers, open houses and old-fashioned door-knocking.

“You can’t win this on the defensive,” says Steve Wasko, the district’s assistant superintendent for community relations. “The only way to survive and thrive is to be on the offensive.”

The first step was trying to ensure basics like making schools safe. District officials gathered community volunteers to walk with children to school and are working with the city’s lighting authority to get broken streetlights near schools replaced before all of the other busted ones in town. And they designated 20 schools as community hubs, to be open 12 hours a day as resource-centers for parents.

The district has also launched new academic programs, including the three-year-old Benjamin Carson High School of Medicine and Technology, named for the retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon who attended Detroit public schools. Many students there said they returned to the district from charter schools because they were attracted by Carson’s small size and focus on science. Yet even Carson has struggled. In the spring, in the school’s first year of state testing, only 9% of 11th-graders passed the state math test and just 1% passed the science exam. They fared better in reading and writing, with about 40% considered proficient.

Similarly, music or art is now taught at every elementary school, but many schools can’t afford to offer both.

But there has been progress. Last fall, enrollment barely dipped after a more than a decade in which it dropped by about 10% every year. Daily attendance is up to 86%, which is meaningful for a system that in 2011 had to return more than $4 million in state funding for having an average daily attendance rate below 75%. And some schools have begun to make gains on state tests that outpace the rate of improvement in the rest of the state.

Uphill Battle

Three weeks before Hill and her peers observed classes at Nichols, a group of volunteers with the nonprofit group Excellent Schools Detroit wandered around two pre-kindergarten classrooms at Bow Elementary School in a heavily blighted neighborhood in the Northwest of the city. In one room, a handful of children gathered around an iPad, while another group paraded through the classroom playing tambourines and wooden blocks. The volunteers made careful notes as the lights flickered. The day before, the power had gone out entirely. (Some schools in Detroit lost as many as 13 days of school last year because of power outages caused by the city’s outdated electrical grid.)

Bow, where 86% of students receive free or discounted lunch, is emblematic of the obstacles DPS faces as it attempts to shed its poor reputation. The school was one of 29 to receive a D this year in the influential rankings published by Excellent Schools Detroit. Only one K-8 Detroit Public School got an A.

For parents in the neighborhood, with few resources to get their children to schools miles away or little knowledge of how to navigate the school-choice process, the only other option is a similarly low-performing K-8 charter school across the street, which Bow’s former principal, Ernestine Woodward says has been drawing away students for years. Last summer staff from Bow knocked on every door in the neighborhood trying to get families back.

The school is doing the best it can with the resources it has, says Woodward, who retired at the end of last year. There’s not nearly enough money for the technology she would have liked, nor for social workers and other services to meet the needs of her students. But they do have afterschool and arts programs and make an effort to get parents into the school whenever possible.

Yet with a reputation for poor performance, it’s a school that Hill would never consider. And Nichols is out of the running, too, even though it should have been a good option. Nichols typically performs at or slightly above average on state tests. And it’s a five-minute walk from Hill’s home in Indian Village, one of the few neighborhoods that look untouched by Detroit’s downturn. But Hill found the class sizes were too large, and she didn’t like that the English curriculum required teachers to follow a script. She’s now leaning toward sending her daughter to a private school, underscoring how difficult it will be for Brown and DPS to convince parents like her.

“Can the public schools really appeal to us?” she says. “I don’t know that they have the resources or the ability to do that right now.”

This story was produced by the Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education-news outlet affiliated with Teachers College, Columbia University.

MONEY College

California Students Continue Tuition-Hike Protests

Protests at University of California campuses continued Monday with students at UC Berkeley planning a class walkout and march.

MONEY Student Loans

How to Pay Off Student Loans Without Surviving on Ramen

graduate eating ramen on the floor
Datacraft/QxQ images—Alamy

Recent grads: You don't need to live off instant noodles or buy only the cheapest beer. What you really need is a plan.

For some federal student loan borrowers who graduated in May, the time has come: It’s the end of your loan repayment grace period.

If you’re about to start shelling out monthly loan payments, just started or are hoping to aggressively tackle your debt, there are a lot of things to do before you start transferring money.

1. Get a Grip on the Basics

Let’s start with the fundamentals of loan repayment: You owe a certain servicer a minimum amount of money at the same time every month. Make sure you know how all that works. You should have received notification from your student loan servicer, but if you’re not sure who you’re supposed to pay, you can access your federal loan information in the National Student Loan Data System. It’ll tell you who you owe. Private student loans won’t be found in that database, but will likely show up on your credit reports with information about the lender so you can contact them.

Make sure you understand exactly what you’re required to pay each month and your payment due date. Jodi Okun, founder of College Financial Aid Advisors and Discover Student Loans Brand Ambassador, recommends organizing your student loan information in a document and setting up calendar reminders for when the payments are due. Look into automatic payment options with your servicer, as well, but you’ll still want to make sure the payment goes through every month. Forgetting about it could accidentally lead you to miss a payment.

2. Figure Out What You Can Afford

As a new graduate, you may be dealing with more life expenses than you have in the past, or you might still be in search of a job you want. Paying your student loans needs to be a priority, because once you fall behind, it can be very difficult to catch up, and missing loan payments will seriously hurt your credit score. You can see how your student loan payments affect your credit score from month to month by getting two of your scores for free on Credit.com.

If you’re concerned about being able to afford your payments, look into student loan repayment options. Federal loan borrowers are often eligible for income-based repayment or loan forgiveness. The application process might take a few months, said John Collins, managing director for GL Advisor, a student loan debt consultancy. Servicers are dealing with a lot of repayment program applications this time of year, so it could take you 60 to 90 days to enroll, Collins said. In the meantime, make sure you can afford your payments.

3. Make a Plan

You may hate the idea of paying debt off over the course of a decade, racking up interest along the way, but before you decide to throw as much money as possible at your debt, consider your entire financial picture.

“What we’ll recommend to everybody is right out of school, limit your required payment as much as possible,” Collins said. “They need to have an emergency savings fund in case something happens. That should be a goal before you start paying down debt.”

Once you have enough socked away to cover three to six months of expenses, then you can consider upping your loan payments, though you’ll want to make sure you won’t incur penalties and your extra payment goes toward the principal loan balance.

Figure out if you want to consolidate or refinance your student loans and what it would take for you to qualify. There are a few companies offering competitive refinancing rates for private loan borrowers with qualifying credit histories, and that could save you a lot of money in the future.

Federal loan borrowers have some decent options for making payments affordable, and all it requires is a little planning. For example, when you’re gathering documents to prove your income level, make sure you’re providing the most accurate information — your earning situation may have changed drastically since you filed your taxes — so your loan repayment is accurate, Collins said.

“Ultimately I think borrowers have a great opportunity to reduce their debt payments through the federal loan repayment options,” Collins said. “A lot of people recommend eating only Ramen, and live in a studio apartment, and only buy toilet paper if necessary. You should never feel that pressure. Use the many tools that are out there, educate yourself on what they are, and if you need help, there are plenty of resources out there.”

More from Credit.com

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: November 24

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. A bipartisan plan in North Carolina shrunk prison population and cut costs while the crime rate continued to fall. Can it serve as a model for other states?

By the Justice Center at the Council of State Governments

2. In international development, the massively scaleable transformative idea is usually too good to be true.

By Michael Hobbes in the New Republic

3. Net Neutrality could have a big impact on the future of healthcare, from telemedicine to electronic medical records.

By Darius Tahir in Modern Healthcare

4. Today’s renewable energy technologies won’t save us from climate change. We need new ideas.

By Ross Koningstein & David Fork in IEEE Spectrum

5. We must understand and counter the major trends fueling the ranks of Islamic radicals.

By Maha Yahya in the National Interest

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Bizarre

Let Kim Kardashian’s Butt Help You Study for the SATs

Kim Kardashian Paper Magazine
Jean-Paul Goude—Paper

Can you calculate the area of this booty?

For most teens, studying for the SATs is a major bummer. But it doesn’t have to be. The people behind test preparation company Catalyst Prep believe in the educational utility of a healthy sense of humor. In an effort to meet teenagers in the bubble of reality TV and social media in which they exist, the company tweeted last week, “As patriotic, pop-culturally-minded Americans, we couldn’t help but see Kim Kardashian’s recent photos as an opportunity to teach SAT math.” They proceeded to cook up some of the most culturally relevant geometry lessons the Internet has to offer.

Catalyst placed Kardashian’s famous backside at the center of several word problems. One challenges students to calculate a perimeter:

Another focuses on angles:

And a third explores the relationship between area and diameter:

For all that’s been written about the photos — that they’re bereft of meaning, indicative of larger issues around representations of black women or simply images of a woman in control and having a good time — it’s now safe to say that the butt that nearly broke the Internet is serving at least one purpose for good.

TIME Education

New Jersey Looks at ‘Yes Means Yes’ College Policy

Laura Dunn
Laura Dunn executive director of the sexual assault survivors’ organization SurvJustice poses for a picture near a church in her neighborhood in Washington on Nov. 11, 2014 Manuel Balce Ceneta—AP

TRENTON, N.J. — You think the attractive woman at the party who has been chatting you up all night is ready to take things to the next level. She seems to be throwing all the right signals.

But if things turn sexual, are you sure that will hold up under legal scrutiny?

That’s a question at the center of a national debate surrounding “yes means yes” — more accurately called affirmative consent — the policy that requires conscious, voluntary agreement between partners to have sex.

A new proposal in New Jersey makes it the latest state moving to require college campuses to define when “yes means yes” in an effort to stem the tide of sexual assaults.

Whether the policy will reduce assaults remains unclear, but states and universities across the U.S. are under pressure to change how they handle rape allegations.

California adopted a similar measure in August, and New York’s governor directed the State University of New York system to implement a similar standard. New Hampshire lawmakers are also considering it.

Supporters and critics agree the measure could encourage students to talk openly and clearly about sex and that a culture of “yes means yes” — an affirmative agreement compared with the “no means no” refrain of previous decades — could help address the issue of campus sex assaults.

Laura Dunn, executive director of the sexual assault survivors’ organization SurvJustice, said she was raped as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin in 2004, after a night of drinking at a party by two men and fellow members of the crew team. She agreed to be identified by The Associated Press.

Dunn believes such a standard could have helped her case during campus judicial proceedings, which failed to find wrongdoing. Her experience led her to become an advocate for sexual assault survivors, she said.

“Had they had an affirmative consent standard they would have realized I would never have consented,” she said.

But skeptics of the policy raise questions — many of which have yet to be settled because the standard is new and it is unclear how many cases have been subjected to the standard— about whether it offers enough protections to the accuser and accused alike.

Affirmative consent standards could unfairly shift the burden of proof to the accused, critics say, pointing out that any sexual contact could then be ruled inappropriate absent some proof of consent.

Some critics also say they could prove to be unfair to victims, who may themselves facing a heavier burden during campus tribunals under Title IX — widely known as the law governing the role of men and women in athletics, but which also aims to protect students from sexual discrimination — which currently defines the standard as “unwelcome and offensive touching.”

Yes means yes “sounds so darn good,” said Wendy Murphy, an adjunct professor at New England Law and an attorney handling sex assault cases. “(But) it doesn’t get better than ‘unwelcome and offensive.'”

Some students, though, express skepticism over the “unwelcome and offensive” standard, saying it fails to convey the seriousness of sexual assault. Student groups at Harvard started a petition last month to get their university to adopt affirmative consent language.

“We certainly agree with the university’s desire to address a wide range of behaviors through their policy,” said Jessica Fournier, a member of Our Harvard Can Do Better, one of the groups organizing the petition. “However, we believe referring to these acts simply as ‘unwelcome’ does not encapsulate the severity of these actions.”

Nationally, reports of forcible sexual offenses on campus rose from 3,443 in 2011 to 4,062, according to the Education Department. In New Jersey, the figure rose from 78 in 2011 to 83 in 2012, the most recent year available. That’s because of increased reporting of crimes due to a culture change and greater support for victims, said Paul Shelly of the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities. Indeed, only 13 percent of forcible sexual assault victims reported the crime to police or campus authorities, according to a 2007 National Institute of Justice study.

What changed, experts said, are students’ attitudes.

“It’s great that it’s receiving this attention, but it’s not a new issue. I think what’s fueling it are student protests about how their institutions have mishandled cases,” said Sarah McMahon, the co-director of Rutgers’ Center on Violence Against Women and Children.

In New Jersey, state Sen. Jim Beach introduced legislation since the debate was making waves nationally. The bill that would withhold state funds from colleges and universities unless they adopt an affirmative consent standard is still waiting for its day in committee.

“We saw what happened in California, realized that it was a problem not only in California but in New Jersey and other campuses around the country,” Beach said. “So we thought that if we did that we would certainly accomplish raising awareness of the entire problem.”

Skeptical supporters said the policy needs to be coupled with education in order for it to succeed.

“The policy is not a magic bullet,” McMahon said.

TIME Crime

UVA Suspends Fraternities After Rolling Stone Article About Rape

The University of Virginia has suspended fraternities until early January following a story about sexual assault on campus

The University of Virginia has suspended all its fraternities until next year, following an article detailing one student’s brutal sexual assault and her quest for justice.

University President Teresa A. Sullivan issued a statement on Saturday saying all “fraternal organizations and associated social activities” were suspended until Jan. 9, the beginning of spring semester.

Sullivan said she has asked the Charlottesville Police Department to investigate the 2012 incident described in the Rolling Stone article, and called on students to come forward about what happened that night.

“The wrongs described in Rolling Stone are appalling and have caused all of us to reexamine our responsibility to this community,” she said. “Rape is an abhorrent crime that has no place in the world, let alone on the campuses and grounds of our nation’s colleges and universities. “

The university’s Inter-Fraternity Council had voluntarily suspended social activities for the weekend, but Sullivan noted that the “challenges will extend beyond this weekend.”

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