TIME Education

University Survey Highlights Role of ‘Verbal Coercion’ in Sexual Assault

University administrators say they have a responsibility to protect students from all kinds of sexual misconduct

An internal survey at the University of Michigan of students’ experience with sexual misconduct found that more than 20% of undergraduate women had been touched, kissed or penetrated without their consent, prompting the university to use new tactics to address the problem.

University administrators were not surprised by the high level of reported misconduct, but they conducted the survey to identify particular areas for improvement. Ten percent of female undergraduates surveyed said they had experienced unwanted sexual conduct as a result of “verbal pressure,” an area administrators say now warrants greater focus.

“The role that verbal pressure and coercion play has not had the same national spotlight that sexual assault has had,” said Holly Rider-Milkovich, director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center at the University of Michigan.

In response to the survey results, the University of Michigan will expand the healthy sexual relationship training the school already holds for incoming freshmen to sophomores, juniors and seniors, so that they can address age-specific issues as students mature, Rider-Milkovich said.

Ever since the White House recommended anonymous sexual misconduct “climate” surveys in April of last year, they have been an important hallmark of reform at many colleges. Sexual assault is a vastly underreported crime and the surveys are designed to give a more realistic picture of what is happening on campus. The University of Michigan is one of the few colleges that have chosen to make its survey results public.

Though it is difficult to compare surveys that ask different questions on different campuses, there are similarities among the results at schools across the country.

In October, MIT published survey results that showed 17% of female undergraduates experienced unwanted sexual behaviors while at MIT, involving use of force, physical threat or incapacitation. The University of New Hampshire, a unique school in that it has been doing climate surveys for years, found in 2012 that 16% of its undergraduate women had experienced unwanted sexual contact or intercourse through force, threat or harm, or intoxication.

MORE: The Troubling Statistic in MIT’s Sexual-Assault Survey

Similar, external surveys have also produced somewhat similar findings. The 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Study conducted at two large public universities, one in the Midwest and one in the South, found that 19% of undergraduate women had experienced sexual misconduct, a study that has become the basis for the 1-in-5 statistic often cited by the White House and victims’ advocates. A recent Washington Post–Kaiser Family Foundation poll of a random sample of 1,053 women and men who were students at a four-year college, or had been at some point since 2011, found that 25% of young women experienced “unwanted sexual incidents” in college.

The surveys conducted by colleges often include a broad range of sexual misconduct, not just forcible rape, a wide net that Rider-Milkovich believes is important to capture all behavior that endangers students. The threshold for “verbal pressure” in the survey, she said, was deliberately high — defined to include: “telling lies, threatening to end the relationship, threatening to spread rumors about them, showing displeasure, criticizing your sexuality or attractiveness or getting angry.” The purpose of climate surveys, she said, is to figure out areas where the specific campus needs to focus new efforts.

Reform efforts at colleges across the country have included healthy sexual-relationship training for incoming freshmen, bystander-awareness training to teach students to step in to stop sexual assault, climate surveys and changes in college-disciplinary-board rules.

MORE: California Passes First-Ever Bill to Define Sexual Consent on College Campuses

At Michigan, Rider-Milkovich said the data shows that the real need on the campus is in “changing our cultural expectations, so that sex is something people engaged in when it is equally desired, not a goal that someone strives toward, regardless of objection.” At Michigan, she added, “We are really transforming how students think about way interact with each other. We will put everything we have towards that goal.”

TIME Higher Education

A Controversial Proposal to Fix Fraternities: Keep the Women Out

The latest proposal in the fight to end sexual assault on campus

The University of Missouri in Columbia is considering an alumni group’s idea to ban women from fraternity houses on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.

The idea was included in a series of proposed changes entitled “Safety of Women Students in Fraternity Houses,” which was submitted by the MU Fraternity Alumni Consortium and leaked last week. The consortium is not an official alumni group of the university, a university spokesman said, but the group has been working with the administration on ways to improve Greek life over the past several years.

MORE: Crisis on Fraternity Row

In addition to prohibiting women from entering fraternities between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, the proposal also suggests disallowing fraternities from hosting social events outside of Columbia, Mo., restricting the alcohol that can be served at fraternities to beer, and requiring fraternities and sororities to conduct mandatory drug tests. Most national sororities already do not permit alcohol in sorority houses.

After the proposal leaked, students took to social media to complain. The university is hosting a summit on June 20 to discuss the proposal and solicit input from student leaders in the Greek community. “Nothing has been finalized yet,” said Christian Basi, a university spokesman. “The perception among Greek students that the proposals were final is not the case.”

The proposals at Missouri come after a period of heightened scrutiny on the problem of sexual assault on campus and the misbehavior of members of the Greek community, particularly fraternities.

MORE: 3 Ways to Fix Fraternities

In a statement released by the Panhellenic Association, which represents sororities, and Interfraternity Council at Missouri, the Greek councils expressed concern about the proposals, writing that they “strongly [disagree] with several of the policies proposed.”

TIME States

This Is the New Frontier in the Fight Against Campus Rape

California could impose mandatory minimum punishments for colleges to level against perpetrators

A California bill would impose a mandatory minimum punishment of two years suspension for students found responsible for rape by colleges, signaling a new phase in the fight against campus sexual assault that even some reformers worry could go too far.

The legislation, part of a package of bills that would also change community college sexual assault policies and colleges’ reporting of rape data, passed overwhelmingly in the California Assembly on Wednesday. It next heads to the state Senate. If enacted, the bill would bring state law into the controversial and opaque inner workings of the college disciplinary boards that mete out punishment outside the criminal justice system.

California has been the most aggressive state when it comes to combating college sexual assault. In September, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a a “yes means yes” law requiring college disciplinary boards to use an “affirmative consent standard”—defined as “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement” to engage in every level of sexual activity. But the new law would go further in dictating the actual punishments colleges hand down.

MORE The Sexual Assault Crisis on American Campuses

“I think when there is more accountability, there will be more thought by perpetrators about whether they are going to endanger their education by engaging in this brutal behavior,” said the bill’s author, Democratic Assemblyman Das Williams, who hopes his legislation will inject accountability into college disciplinary boards that often act inconsistently and with little oversight.

Such boards and their standards vary across the country, but they are typically staffed by students or faculty members and are designed to decide guilt and assign punishments for students found responsible for violations as varied as academic cheating, drugs, and sexual violence. Those punishments can range from community service to expulsion. The boards operate independently from the criminal justice system and do not follow the same rules—most boards disallow students from using lawyers. When adjudicating sexual assault, the federal government has directed the boards to use the “preponderance of evidence” standard—a more than 50% chance that the perpetrator committed the crime—to determine guilt, which is a lower standard of evidence than required for a criminal conviction.

The role of college disciplinary boards has been at the center of the debate over how to handle the sexual assault problem. Because rape victims often don’t report the crime to police and because of low conviction rates, sexual assault survivor advocates have pushed for college disciplinary boards to take a stronger role to offer justice to victims where the criminal justice system has not. But stories of the boards letting men they have found responsible for rape get off with only minimal consequences have led to growing criticism.

“I’m not OK with there being no accountability for rape in this society,” Williams said. ” I would like to address it society-wide, but on campuses, we have a tool that could work better. My hope is that survivors and the people who are charged with their safety will avail themselves of those dismissal procedures. For most victims its their only chance at justice.”

Opponents of the bill see risk in imposing mandatory minimum punishments, especially by disciplinary bodies that do not operate like the criminal justice system. “Those committing sexual assault within our college campuses should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law by our judicial system, not at a campus disciplinary proceeding,” said Republican Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, one of the four lawmakers who voted against the bill. “College administrators should not be conducting criminal trials for serious crimes and our state legislature should not mandate punishments at these quasi- judicial hearings.”

A spokesperson for the University of California said it doesn’t have a formal position on the legislation.

Even among those who are in favor of stiff punishments from school disciplinary boards, some don’t believe it’s appropriate for the legislature to get involved.

“When states start telling schools what minimums and maximum punishments they can give for offenses, you start wondering where and when does that begin and end,” said W. Scott Lewis, a higher education legal consultant with The NCHERM Group, who specializes in sexual assault prevention on campus. Lewis also raised concerns about whether or not the state’s definition of “rape” would be consistent with the school’s conduct policies, a problem that could persist if other states try to adopt similar laws. The bill’s language requires the mandatory minimum punishment to kick in with “rape, forced sodomy, forced oral copulation, and rape by a foreign object.” But Lewis said some schools take a broader definition of what constitutes rape than the law might: “What do they mean by force? Does coercion count? Touching? Here you’ve got a state mandating a distinction for which can be broader term definition.”

Matt Kaiser, a Washington-based lawyer who often represents college students accused of sexual assault, agreed—especially in California, where the affirmative consent law ensnares a broader range of behavior. “Assault can mean touching somebody’s butt when making out and they didn’t want you too and didn’t say you could,” he said. “It’s squishy enough I don’t even know what the rules mean anymore.”

TIME Books

Jon Krakauer Defends New Book on College Rape

The 'Into Thin Air' author's new book, 'Missoula,' has stirred the college town

In 2011, Gwen Florio, a dogged reporter for Missoula, Montana’s local paper, reported on a number of rapes involving University of Montana football players that had gone unpunished by school or local authorities. Her stories eventually led to a Justice Department investigation into the alleged mishandling of 80 reported rapes in Missoula over a period of three years; the investigation resulted in settlements between the federal government, local law enforcement and university officials. But the circumstances led Missoula — a laid-back, academic town of only 70,000 — to be referred to in the ensuing national press America’s “rape capital.”

Now synonymous with its recent legacy, “Missoula” has become the title for a new book by best-selling author Jon Krakauer. Krakauer said in an interview that his working title was What Happened in Missoula, but he ended up preferring the one-word title his publisher and editor gave the book because it was “non-sensational” and “almost academic.” What he means by “academic” is that the book, out this week, serves as a case study of the widespread problem of campus rape, and how they are handled.

Rankled by the bad publicity, many in the Missoula community have criticized the title of the book, subtitled Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, for unfairly singling out Missoula in what is a national issue. But Missoula works as a case study in large part because so many of the high-profile rapes there were reported to the police and the university, and litigated in court. Indeed, Krakauer said, he chose to write about Missoula in part because of the availability of official documents he could rely upon for his reporting. Time focused on Missoula to report our cover story (which I wrote) about campus rape for many of the same reasons. When there is a paper trail as clearcut as the one in Montana, it makes reporting about rape less susceptible to the kinds of issues that plagued the UVA story recently retracted by Rolling Stone. Here, Krakauer has uncovered many new documents — but documents nonetheless — himself for the book. Missoula even stands a corrective to the controversy surrounding the Rolling Stone story, which many critics said set back the clock decades on rape activism and advocacy.

Krakauer is clearly supportive of victims; his inspiration to write the book came out of a personal friendship he shared with a woman (not from Missoula) who was raped as a teenager. His vantage point offers a sharp argument against the inherent flaws in America’s adversarial criminal justice system in which, Krakauer writes, “Due process trumps honesty and ordinary justice.” For anyone distressed by the high rate of sexual assault afflicting young women, and who wants to understand some of the ways in which the justice system fails them — and shouldn’t that be all of us? — Krakauer’s book is worth reading.

“I am sorry everyone is bent out of shape. I understand why, but I don’t apologize for the title,” Krakauer said. He said that he was disturbed by the town’s focus on negative publicity instead of the rapes that happened there. “They are outraged that the city was besmirched by the book title, not by what is revealed in the book…. That doesn’t make me think well of Missoula. They are focused on the wrong thing here. They say it was not worse than any other town, but that’s not something to be proud of.”

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 justice

Fraternity Plans to Sue Rolling Stone Over Campus-Rape Article

The university's chapter of Phi Kappa Psi plans to "pursue all available legal action against the magazine"

The University of Virginia chapter of Phi Kappa Psi said Monday it plans to sue Rolling Stone magazine, one day after the publication retracted a controversial story about a gang rape allegedly committed by some of the fraternity’s members.

“After 130 days of living under a cloud of suspicion as a result of reckless reporting by Rolling Stone Magazine, today the Virginia Alpha Chapter of Phi Kappa Psi announced plans to pursue all available legal action against the magazine,” it said.

The announcement follows the release of a lengthy investigation into Rolling Stone’s handling of the story by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. That report, issued Sunday, found significant problems at every stage of the reporting, editing and fact-checking process and called the piece “a story of journalistic failure that was avoidable.”

Rolling Stone has apologized for the discredited story, although publisher Jann Wenner has reportedly chosen not to fire anyone as a result.

“The report by Columbia University’s School of Journalism demonstrates the reckless nature in which Rolling Stone researched and failed to verify facts in its article that erroneously accused Phi Kappa Psi of crimes its members did not commit,” Stephen Scipione, president of the Virginia Alpha Chapter of Phi Kappa Psi, said in the statement. “This type of reporting serves as a sad example of a serious decline of journalistic standards.”

The Nov. 19 publication of the Rolling Stone story upended the idyllic campus, turning it into the heated center of the national debate over campus sexual assault. The fraternity’s house was vandalized as outrage over the allegations in the story spread. But questions were soon raised about the credibility of the story. And in March, Charlottesville police said investigators were “not able to conclude to any substantive degree” that the incident had occurred.

“Clearly our fraternity and its members have been defamed, but more importantly we fear this entire episode may prompt some victims to remain in the shadows, fearful to confront their attackers,” Scipione said. “If Rolling Stone wants to play a real role in addressing this problem, it’s time to get serious.”

Students say the unraveling of Rolling Stone’s story has helped redeem the fraternity’s reputation on campus. “I think people have a great deal of remorse about how they spoke about Phi Psi in the fall,” says Abraham Axler, UVA’s student-council president.

The national Phi Kappa Psi fraternity has not yet decided whether it will join any legal action filed by the UVA chapter.

“We could do any array of things between us supporting them, partnering with them, or standing on the sidelines. We have not made those decisions on a national organization level yet. We plan on a release later today at some point ” said Chad Stegemiller, Phi Kappa Psi’s national assistant executive director.

Timothy Burke, a lawyer who represents fraternities and sororities, believes the detailed examination of Rolling Stone’s missteps in the Columbia report will help Phi Kappa Psi’s case.

“The potential for punitive damages are great in this case because Rolling Stone so badly blew every ethical journalistic obligation, according to what the Columbia school of journalism has to say,” says Burke, a partner at Fraternal Law Partners.

Any lawsuit would open the fraternity to potentially damaging information unearthed during the discovery process, such as evidence of underage drinking or drug use, but Burke says it’s unlikely to be enough to outweigh the benefits of bringing the case in the face of such shocking allegations.

“Any plaintiff’s council is going to advise his clients about the risks of litigation and what can happen in terms of discovery,” he says. “I would not be shocked to find out that underage students had a drink or two in the fraternity house. But that’s very different than saying that multiple members of that chapter engaged in gang rape.”

Read next: Rolling Stone Apologizes, Retracts Discredited Rape Story

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Sexual Assault

The Hunting Ground Reignites the Debate Over Campus Rape

Filmmakers criticize campuses, fraternities and politicians for not keeping students safe

The debate over how to prevent and investigate sexual assault on campuses has been waged for over a year now with lawmakers like Senator Gillibrand calling sexual assault on campus an “epidemic,” and the White House threatening colleges and universities with sanctions for not following reporting and adjudication guidelines. More than 100 colleges are now under investigation for possibly violating federal laws that aim to keep students safe. But just as campuses have entered a new semester, and the protests seemed to be dying down, a provocative new documentary called The Hunting Ground is pouring gasoline on the debate.

The film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, hit theaters in New York and Los Angeles last weekend and will go on a tour of college campuses as it is rolled out across the country. It’s already causing controversy, with advocates saying it sheds a much-needed light on the way colleges cover up rape on campus and critics accusing the filmmakers of fear mongering and advocating for a radical adjudication procedure that ignores due process for the accused. Bringing the story to campuses where students are carrying mattresses to protest what they say is administrations’ indifference to victims of assault is sure to incite a whole new round of anxiety over the issue.

The Hunting Ground filmmakers spare no one in their crusade to stop assault on college campuses. In an interview with TIME, they critiqued the fraternity system, university officials who protect athletes accused of attacking women, politicians advocating for arming women on campus and even the White House for what they believe to be an insufficient campaign to keep students safe.

Back in 2012, the issue of campus safety not yet hit the covers of magazines like TIME, and it certainly wasn’t on the radar of filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering who were then traveling across the country to screen their Emmy-award winning documentary on sexual assault in the U.S. military, Invisible War, a film that former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta credits with inspiring him to take action on the issue which resulted in changes in the way that assaults are prosecuted in the military.

But as they toured campuses, they kept hearing the same message: “This happened to me, too. What’s happening in the military is happening at my school.” And it was clear to the filmmakers that, like in the military, schools were not doing enough to help these women. Only 41% of all universities initiated an investigation into sexual assault claims in the last five years, according to a Senate survey.

“We felt we’d received this call we had to respond to,” says Ziering. What result is a searing portrayal of a university system that the filmmakers say failed to create a safe environment for students and hid cases of sexual assault brought to their attention. By presenting dozens of first-hand accounts—they interviewed more than 100 survivors—Dick and Ziering hoped to personalize the conversation around campus rape in the same way that they did the debate about assault in the military.

A Premeditated Crime

They say their mission began with disproving the perception that campus rapes are just drunken hookups that one party regrets the next morning. “In so many of these situations, there was a predator at work. These survivor was picked out, plied with alcohol and set up to be assaulted,” says Dick. “And then the school’s response was often unsupportive of the survivor. First, victim blaming, and then the investigation that followed was either inadequate or didn’t happen at all.”

To make their case, Dick and Ziering tracked down someone rarely heard from in this debate: a convicted rapist. The man, whose face is blurred out, describes the ease with which he and fellow college students would deploy alcohol as a weapon to incapacitate girls and assault them.

“We felt it was important to include the mindset of a rapist who describes the ways in which these crimes are premeditated and highly calculated by serial predators,” says Ziering. Research indicates that only a small percentage of men commit these crimes, but that assailants attack an average of six victims.

The stories Dick and Ziering heard often shared the same setting—fraternities. Of the thousands of insurance claims that are made against fraternities each year, those for sexual assault are the second most common. The issue is so dire that some schools, like Dartmouth College and University of Virginia, have gone as far as to ban alcohol (or at least kegs and hard alcohol) at frats.

The filmmakers, while acknowledging that fraternities can be a productive part of campus life, accuse national chapters and colleges of condoning a culture often taken advantage of by predators. “The problem is that when you go on campus and you start asking where are the problem houses, where the sexual assaults happen, within a half an hour, you get that answer from a student,” says Kirby. Several interviewees in the film highlight one fraternity in particular— Sigma Alpha Epsilon, which they say is known on many campuses as “Sexual Assault Expected.”

“If the students know, the administration must have known for a long, long time,” adds Kirby. “Why aren’t they warning students? Or parents?” In the film, one school does send a letter to incoming freshmen warning them about a frat that has been sanctioned for assaults committed by its members. After backlash from the fraternity brothers’ parents, the school stops sending out warnings.

TIME reached out to Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s national chapter for a response to these claims. They wrote: “We believe anyone who commits sexual assault or other illegal acts should be held accountable and face punishment that is appropriate for those actions…Moreover, sexual assault is an issue related to all college students not specifically to fraternity men.” Brandon Weghorst, Director of Communications, also pointed out that SAE offers education and training on how to stop sexual assault.

MORE The Problem With Frats Isn’t Just Rape. It’s Power

The Athlete Bubble

The filmmakers also highlight similar issues with college athletics. The documentary follows the campus adjudication process for a handful of women, including Erica Kinsman, a former Florida State University student who claims that Jameis Winston, the likely no. 1 pick in the next NFL draft, raped her. Winston was never charged by the police and was cleared of violating the school’s code of conduct in December. Kinsman claims that FSU protected Winston while she had to endure the death threats from FSU football fans throughout the state. She has since sued the school and switched colleges.

A similar claim is made in the film by a campus investigator at Notre Dame, who says that administrators told him he could not reach out to athletes or coaches to locate a football player accused of sexually assaulting another student. The film notes that presidents and provosts at FSU, Notre Dame, and several other schools in the documentary declined to be interviewed for the film.

MORE Some Rules About Consent Are Unfair to Male Students

Botched Investigations

The filmmakers assert that some university administrators have been reluctant to bring the assault numbers to light because doing so could damage the reputation of the school. It’s an accusation echoed by some lawmakers: “The current lax oversight has the perverse effect of incentivizing colleges to encourage non-reporting, under-reporting and non-compliance with the already weak standards under current federal law,” Senator Gillibrand wrote in TIME.

Many schools fire back that giving the benefit of the doubt to the victim would undermine due process and lead to wrongful expulsions in cases where there’s little evidence. And while going to the police is an option, starting a criminal investigation, advocates argue, can be a lengthy process that can leave the victim to face-to-face with their accused attacker in dorms or classrooms for years, so schools need to get involved.

MORE Why Victims of Rape in College Don’t Report to the Police

The Safety Debate in DC

Recently, some conservatives have suggested that ending the ban on weapons on campus and allowing women to have guns on campus would make them safer. “The obvious solution to make an unsafe environment safer is to give students a fighting chance to fend off attackers. That means allowing them to be armed,” writes commentator S.E. Cupp for CNN.com.

But some victim advocates say that adding guns to the mix could be disastrous. “That suggestion shows a blatant ignorance of the issue,”says Ziering. “More often than not, victims are incapacitated in a way where a gun would make absolutely no difference. If anything, the guns would help the assailants and not the people being assaulted.”

But the Hunting Ground filmmakers say liberals aren’t sufficiently addressing the issue either. Last fall, the White House launched an “It’s On Us” campaign that encourages bystander intervention—students stepping into bad situations to help potential victims. It’s a clever idea: Research shows that a campaign against sexual assault isn’t going to stop rapists, but it can affect how bystanders address such situations. Nonetheless, Clark says the White House should be concentrating its efforts on earlier education.

“If you have to have a bystander intervene in a situation at a college party, we’ve already messed up,” she says. “We have to have this conversation much earlier, in elementary school or secondary school so that it never escalates to this point.”

Ziering adds that by concentrating on students’ responsibility, the campaign doesn’t deploy the proper pressure on administrators. “It’s not just on us. It’s on the administration,” she says.

After her experience, Ziering says if she could ask one thing of the White House, it would be to mandate independent investigators on campus and create a watchdog group that makes sure those investigators maintain their independence.

“We saw this with the military as well: we can’t have foxes guarding the henhouse,” she says. “Any time there is a conflict of interest in our criminal justice system, even on campuses, we won’t get the best outcome.”

Read next: The Debate: How Should College Campuses Handle Sexual Assault

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Sexual Assault

The Vanderbilt Rape Case Will Change the Way Victims Feel About the Courts

The decision sends the message that the criminal justice system does work for rape cases

On Wednesday, two former Vanderbilt University football stars were convicted by a Nashville jury of aggravated rape and aggravated sexual battery. Cory Batey and Brandon Vandenburg could serve decades behind bars for gang raping a fellow student in a dorm room in 2013. (Their argument that they were drunk and thus not in their right minds at the time of the attack was quickly dismissed by the court as a poor excuse for their violence.) The decision offers hope to victims of campus rape who, up until now, have shied away from reporting assaults to the police.

A recent study from the Justice Department found that 80% of campus rapes went unreported to the authorities (compared to a still-disheartening 67% in the general population). Victims of campus sexual assault have many reasons to choose a campus judiciary process over reporting the assault to the police. These victims are often in the position of living on the same campus as their assailant and thus forced to encounter them in the school cafeteria, in classrooms or in the library—places no student can avoid. Depending on the school’s policies, filing criminal charges against an assailant may not necessarily get him removed from campus, whereas a quicker, quieter campus judgment can. In the minds of many victims, the fastest way to feel safe is by going to the dean not the police.

Victims’ advocates have said that some students believe faculty members will be more sympathetic to assault claims than the police. “If you’re a person of color or you’re queer, the process of going to the police also can be one that is not necessarily competent or great to deal with,” Caitlin Lowell of the Coalition Against Sexual Violence at Columbia University told TIME last year.

Perhaps the most compelling reason students are deterred from reporting a rape to the police is that they think they will spend years going through the criminal judicial process reliving the agony of their attack only to be denied justice. A tiny fraction of accused rapists will ever serve a day in prison, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN).

But the criminal justice system can provide guarantees that campuses cannot. If the news cycle from the past year has taught us anything, it’s that universities—from Columbia University to Florida State University—are not equipped to adjudicate these cases. Students complain that evidence is not systematically collected, hearings are often held without attorneys present and administration officials and those designated to preside over these cases have posed inappropriate questions. In theory, our courts are the best way to ensure that rapists are removed from our streets, and the Vanderbilt case—along with the recent arrest of a Stanford University swimmer who allegedly raped an unconscious woman on campus grounds— suggests that in practice that may finally be the case. (The Stanford student was barred from campus after his arrest, highlighting the importance of police involvement.)

MORE:My Rapist Is Still on Campus’: Sex Assault in the Ivy League

The evidence in the Vanderbilt case was hard to dismiss. Though the victim (whose anonymity is being preserved by TIME and other news outlets) said she did not remember what happened the night of her attack after she lost consciousness, other players testified that they saw Vanbenburg slap her buttocks and say he could not have sex because he was high on cocaine. They also said that Batey raped the woman and then urinated on her. (Two other players who have pled not guilty will be tried later.)

University surveillance videos of players carrying an unconscious woman through a dormitory and graphic images of the assault taken from players’ phones proved that the victim was unconscious and confirmed which players participated in the gang rape. There was no DNA evidence, but one player testified that Vandenburg—who can be heard laughing and encouraging the assault in a video shown in court—passed out condoms to the other players.

Most victims are not able to bring so much evidence to the court. And many victims would understandably worry that they wouldn’t be able to finish their degree while enduring this arduous process. (The victim in this case impressively did and is now pursuing a Ph.D. in neuroscience at another university.)

Assault survivors should take comfort in this small victory. “I want to remind other victims of sexual violence: You are not alone. You are not to blame,” the victim said in a statement that was read by Assistant District Attorney Jan Norman in a press conference.

Bringing rapists to justice is just one piece of fighting the campus rape epidemic. In the Vanderbilt case, police said that five other athletes saw the victim in distress and did nothing to intervene or report her attackers. Even if our criminal justice system were perfect, it could not stop rape from happening. That’s why the White House is currently promoting a bystander intervention educational campaign on campuses. Ultimately it’s up to students to watch out for one another.

Read Next: Rose Byrne on Frat Culture and How Bystanders Can Stop Sexual Assault

TIME Sexual Assault

UVA Sorority Members Outraged After Being Asked To Avoid Frat Parties

The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va., Nov. 24, 2014. A Rolling Stone article last week alleged a gang rape at the house which has since suspended operations.
Steve Helber—AP The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va., on Nov. 24, 2014. A Rolling Stone article alleged a gang rape at the hous

“I don’t understand where or when I signed up for an organization that encouraged women to hide from men”

Members of sororities at the University of Virginia are outraged after their national chapters ordered them to avoid fraternity parties over the weekend.

An online petition to remove the mandate had over 2,000 signatures by Thursday morning. It says,

Instead of addressing rape and sexual assault at UVa, this mandate perpetuates the idea that women are inferior, sexual objects. It is degrading to Greek women, as it appears that the [National Panhellenic Conference] views us as defenseless and UVa’s new fraternal policies as invalid. Allowing the NPC to prevent us from celebrating (what used to be) a tight-knit community, sends the message that we are weak.

According to the Washington Post, the Student Council voted on an emergency bill Tuesday night urging sorority national chapter leaders to come to campus.

“I don’t understand where or when I signed up for an organization that encouraged women to hide from men,” Erin Dyer, a third-year UVA student told the Washington Post.

This new controversy comes as UVA tries to examine and reform its Greek culture in the wake of a Rolling Stone article about a rape on campus.

TIME Crime

Why UVA’s New Frat Rules May Not Make Much Difference

TIME.com stock photos Drinking Fraternity Frat Solo Cups
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Methods of enforcement remain few and far between

The University of Virginia has proposed new rules for its fraternity system after the uproar that broke out both on and off campus following a controversial magazine story late last year that depicted a brutal gang rape at a frat house.

The new rules include some strong reforms like the elimination of kegs and hard-alcohol punch. But the nature of the relationship between the university and the fraternities, many of which are privately owned, may make the rules hard to enforce.

The individual Greek organizations have until Friday to agree to the new rules. If they don’t, they risk losing formal affiliation with the university—the one bit of leverage UVA administrators have over the fraternities. Under the new rules, fraternities must furnish a minimum of three “sober brother monitors,” at parties, who must wait at each alcohol distribution point as well as the stairs leading to the residential bedrooms. Beer must be served unopened in the original can, pre-mixed punches would be prohibited, wine must be poured out of a bottle by a sober brother, and hard alcohol can only be served at large parties by a hired bartender licensed by the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. A privately contracted security guard would also have to stand outside the front door and check names off a guest list.

MORE The Sexual Assault Crisis on American Campuses

The new rules come after UVA briefly suspended social activities at all fraternities on campus following the publication of an article in Rolling Stone that included a detailed account of a horrific rape that allegedly happened at a UVA fraternity. The story has since been found to have significant inconsistencies. After the Washington Post and other outlets identified problems with the story, Rolling Stone issued an apology and promised to investigate further. On Monday, UVA announced that it would reinstate the fraternity in the story, Phi Kappa Psi, after the Charlottesville Police failed to find any “substantive basis” to confirm the gruesome events described in the story.

Despite the inconsistencies in the article, UVA has decided to go ahead with fraternity reform. Though UVA President Teresa Sullivan was careful not to single out Greek organizations as the main culprits in the problem of sexual assault on campus during an interview with TIME last year, the rules do reflect a slightly softer version of the reforms she favored. “The days of the trash can full of punch have to be over,” she told TIME.

MORE UVA President: Eliminate All Booze Except Beer

Nonetheless, it appears that UVA may not be doing much to enforce the reforms—a reflection of the tricky nature of governing private organizations on campus. According to ABC News, UVA spokesman Anthony de Bruyn said the university would not provide staff to monitor the fraternities to because they are privately owned. “The University will work closely with Greek leadership to support them in seeking compliance with the new practices by their members,” de Bruyn told Time. “Should violations be brought to the University’s attention, as has been the case it the past, the Dean of Students Office will investigate, and any appropriate next steps would be based upon the details of each case.”

The lack of formal monitoring raises questions as to whether the reforms will have any teeth.

TIME Crime

UVA Fraternity at the Center of Controversial Rape Story Is Reinstated

UVA Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity Rolling Stone
Steve Helber—AP The Phi Kappa Psi house at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va., Nov. 24, 2014.

Phi Kappa Psi is welcomed back after Rolling Stone article comes under scrutiny

The University of Virginia said Monday that it would reinstate the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity featured in a widely read story last year that depicted a brutal gang rape at its house but later came under withering scrutiny for factual inconsistencies.

The University’s reinstatement of the fraternity came after the Charlottesville Police were unable to find any “substantive basis” to confirm the gruesome events detailed in the November Rolling Stone story, UVA said in a statement. The fraternity chapter had voluntarily suspended its charter shortly following the article.

MORE: Crisis on Fraternity Row

“We welcome Phi Kappa Psi, and we look forward to working with all fraternities and sororities in enhancing and promoting a safe environment for all,” UVA President Teresa Sullivan said in the statement.

After reporting from the Washington Post and other outlets raised questions about the story, the magazine apologized for “discrepancies” and said it’s trust in the accuser had been misplaced.

MORE: The Sexual Assault Crisis on American Campuses

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