TIME Education

Colleges Are Breaking the Law on Sex Crimes, Report Says

Demonstrators protest sexual assault on college campuses at the #YesAllWomen rally in solidarity with those affected by violence in Seattle on May 30, 2014.
Demonstrators protest sexual assault on college campuses at the #YesAllWomen rally in solidarity with those affected by violence in Seattle on May 30, 2014. Alex Garland—Demotix/Corbis

New survey amid push for congressional action

Many American colleges and universities are bucking federal law in their handling of campus sexual assaults, according to a survey released Wednesday by a top lawmaker on the issue.

Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, said the results reveal a broad failure by many schools but also offer possible solutions as she and a bipartisan group of lawmakers draft legislation to address the problem. They’re likely to produce a bill around the time students head back to campus this fall.

The survey results come as pressure grows on higher-education institutions to improve their handling of sexual assault from the White House, Department of Education and student advocates. Schools are legally required to address sex crimes and sex harassment under Title IX, a law that prohibits schools that receive public funding from discriminating on the basis of sex. In May, the Department of Education began publicly listing the schools under investigation for violations of Title IX, and the number recently reached 64. The scrutiny has colleges scrambling to improve their policies and procedures.

Colleges and universities are not following even the most basic rules already required of them, according to the survey. Results from the 236 schools that responded to the survey revealed that even though colleges are legally required to have a Title IX coordinator (a staff member responsible for managing the school’s compliance with the laws on sexual harassment and sex crimes), 10% of schools did not. And 41% of schools surveyed had not conducted a single sexual-assault investigation in the past five years.

“That means that they are saying there have been zero incidents of sexual assault on their campuses,” McCaskill said in a call with reporters. “That is hard to believe.”

Schools are required by law to investigate when they know or reasonably should have known about a sex crime on their campus. But more than 21% of “the nation’s largest private institutions” surveyed conducted fewer investigations than they reported to the Department of Education, with some schools reporting as many as seven times the number of incidents of sexual violence than they investigated, which “on its face is violating the black-letter law in this country,” McCaskill said.

Other results revealed a lack of professionalism inherent in the process of handling sex crimes at many of the institutions. Even though most schools, 73%, had no protocol for how to work with the local police, many schools nonetheless had not adequately trained personnel on how to deal with these serious crimes internally. Twenty-one percent of the schools provided no training on sexual-assault response for members of faculty and staff, and 31% provided no training to students. A third of schools failed to provide basic training to the people adjudicating claims, 43% of the nation’s “largest public schools” let students help adjudicate cases, and 22% of institutions gave athletic departments oversight of cases involving athletes — a stat McCaskill called “borderline outrageous.”

The lack of police involvement combined with the institutions’ broad-based failure to handle these crimes adequately, means there is little deterrent for perpetrators on campus.

“We will ultimately have a system that is more of a deterrent than we have now,” McCaskill said. “The folks preying on college students — they have little to no fear of serious consequences.”

TIME Sexual Assault

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

Demonstrators protest sexual assault on college campuses at the #YesAllWomen rally in solidarity with those affected by violence in Seattle on May 30, 2014.
Demonstrators protest sexual assault on college campuses at the #YesAllWomen rally in solidarity with those affected by violence in Seattle on May 30, 2014. Alex Garland—Demotix/Corbis

Senator Claire McCaskill hosts a round table to address how and when law enforcement should be brought into campus sexual assault cases

The frustration in the room was palpable on Capitol Hill on Monday afternoon where a group sexual assault victim advocates and law enforcement experts in sex crimes met to talk about how the police and college administrators could better together to handle campus sexual assault.

The group had assembled for a roundtable hosted by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), one of a team of three senators working to draft legislation that would address growing concerns about campus safety. As TIME wrote in a recent cover story, criticism of how college campuses have dealt with sexual assault has risen this year with accusations that officials have been sweeping the problem under the rug. But the tension over universities’ mishandling of these issues begs the question of why college administrators are expected to deal with these cases in the first place. A passive observer might wonder, shouldn’t these serious crimes be dealt with by the police? The answer, it turns out, is that administrators and police will have to work together to address the problem.

Yet the difficulty of building more effective partnerships became clear as the conversation unfolded at the round table today. Victim advocates articulated fears about anything that would make the relationship between law enforcement and the schools overly formal. For the advocates, doing right by the victim often means respecting her or his wishes not to report the crime to the police and even telling the victim about the possible downsides of the criminal justice system– which can lead to a months-long process that might threaten a victim’s confidentiality. In response, law enforcement officers explained how difficult it can be to pursue criminal action when they don’t collect evidence from the victim early in the process, making it difficult for them to get repeat offenders off the streets.

The question of when and how to involve the police in campus sexual assault is a salient one for administrators and politicians as they work together to overhaul the system of reporting and preventing these incidents. Alexandra Brodsky, a student at Yale law school and an organizer at Know Your IX, a grassroots organization that educates sexual assault survivors about their civil rights in the college setting, illustrated the tension beautifully during the discussion when she said: “When I reported violence to my school, I was told not to go to police. But I never would have told [the school] if I knew I was going to be forced into that option.”

If colleges are going to do a better job of handling sexual assault, college administrators are going to have to work together with police chiefs. But that collaboration is difficult, particularly because victims (especially those in college), are reluctant to report their assaults to the police.

In a 2007 study funded by the U.S. Department of Justice that surveyed 5,446 undergraduate women and 1,375 undergraduate men at two large public universities in the South and the Midwest, just 2% of sexual assault victims incapacitated by drugs or alcohol and just 13% of “physically forced” victims reported the crimes to law enforcement (that’s why increased reporting at colleges is, counter-intuitively, a good sign).

So, why don’t victims go to the police? Every victim is different, but there are a few common themes that ran through the testimony at the hearing and through conversations with experts in the field.

1. They don’t want anyone to know. In the round table, confidentiality was the most often sighted goal of both victim’s advocates and police officers and prosecutors who work most closely with victims. Survey data backs them up. Contrary to Washington Post columnist George Will’s bizarre theory that reporting sexual assault could confer a “coveted status” for victims, research shows that college victims don’t report sexual assault to the police because they don’t want anyone to know. In the 2007 study, 42% of the “physically forced” victims who did not report the incident to the police said it was because they “did not want anyone to know.” Nearly half of the victims gave the same answer in an earlier survey (also funded by the National Institute of Justice) that randomly surveyed 4, 446 women attending two or four year colleges during 1997.

Victims, especially those in college, know that reporting rape comes with a social risk, especially when the perpetrator is someone they know. At a small or midsize college, the rapist is likely to be part of the victim’s social circle. “I’ve seen this in every single case. The victim lose friends or becomes a social pariah. If you report on a really small campus, its really difficult to re-integrate after you report,” says Bruno.

Interestingly, even as the attitude towards victims has improved over the last several years in the broader culture and by police, self-blame and shame has persisted among victims, leaving them just as unwilling to come forward. Years ago, says Scott Berkowitz, the founder and president of the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), the most common reason victims gave for not reporting was: “‘I think I won’t be believed. I think I will be blamed.’ We hear that less often. Now it is much more common to hear: ‘I want to keep this private. I don’t want people to know. I’m embarrassed.'”

2. They don’t understand what constitutes rape. The 2007 survey showed that just over 35% of victims said that they didn’t report to law enforcement because it was “unclear that it was a crime or that harm was intended” (44% gave that same answer in the earlier 1990’s study).

The victims’ confusion does not mean that all of these crimes fell somewhere in the gray. More likely, their confusion reflects shame, denial, and internalized misconceptions that rape is always perpetrated by a stranger and involves physical violence, when often, rape happens between acquaintances and involves alcohol, threats, or other kinds of coercion.”Victims don’t often identify it as a crime because they know the person, they trusted the person, sense of denial or disbelief that it happened,”says Colby Bruno, Senior Legal Counsel at the Victim Rights Law Center, who represents victims of sexual violence in civil matters, with particular expertise in representing college students.

3. They are afraid the police won’t believe them. In the more recent 2007 study, 21% of physically forced victims and 12% of incapacitated victims did not report because they didn’t think the police would take the crime seriously and 13% of forced victims and 24% of incapacitated victims feared the police would treat them poorly. Victims have also reported that their colleges discouraged them from reporting.

Victims aren’t wrong in their perception. According to research funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, only 18% of reported rapes result in a conviction.

4. They don’t know how much control they will have after they report to the police. Victims are afraid of going through a public rape trial because of how awful it can be for the victim. Media portrayals of rape trials show how often they are about the victim’s character and credibility. Given the low rate of conviction, victim’s naturally decide it isn’t worth the risk. Unfortunately, there is wide discrepancy between how prosecutors and police officers in various jurisdictions handle sex crimes. Some will give broad power and control to the victim, while others may pursue the case against the victim’s wishes. Predicting those outcomes are difficult for victims and the advocates who advise them (a theme reflected in today’s round table). According to Carrie Hull, a detective with the Ashland Police Department in Ashland Oregon who attended the round table, said reporting was up 106% from 2010 to 2013 after the implemented a program called “You Have Options,” designed to decrease barriers in reporting, which gives women three options when reporting to police – to give information only, to trigger a partial investigation, or to trigger a complete investigation that will be referred to the prosecutor.

Bruno says that prosecutors are more likely than they were a few years ago to follow the victim’s wishes to drop a case. Still, it is impossible to predict the outcome, and victims are rightly scared by what they know of the system.

As I’ve reported before, rapists are very often repeat offenders. The best way to ensure that more victims report is to continue to create flexibility in the system for victims and change the wider culture so that victims will feel supported. Being the victim of rape will never reach George Will’s imagined “coveted status,” but at the very least, we have to work together to ensure it’s not a shameful one.

Read more on how campuses should handle sexual assault.

TIME

Here’s the Real Reason College Sex Assault Reports are Rising

It may actually be a sign of progress

+ READ ARTICLE

It would seem an odd cause for optimism: the number of sex crimes reported by colleges rose 52 percent between 2001 and 2011, according to a government report released on Tuesday, even as overall crime on campuses dropped.

Yet to many counselors and administrators, the increase is a sign that schools are getting better at handling sexual assault, a problem Time highlighted in a recent cover story. It sounds counterintuitive, but here’s why:

For a number of reasons — institutional resistance, lack of understanding, victims’ own fears — colleges have historically under-reported sex crimes on campus. The substantial jump in reports — from 2,200 to 3,300 over a decade — doesn’t necessarily mean that more sexual assaults occurred as much as it shows that colleges are getting better at acknowledging the ones that have always taken place. This is likely the result of a number of factors: schools becoming better educated about defining sexual assault and more transparent about disclosing when it happens, and victims feeling increasingly empowered to come forward because of these changes.

The Obama administration has made preventing campus sexual assault a priority, appointing a White House advisor on violence against woman, ramping up investigations into colleges’ alleged mishandling of sexual assaults, and threatening to withdraw federal funding from schools that fail to adequately address sexual violence. According to the new data, the increase in reported incidents was particularly high in 2010 and 2011, rising by 15% both years, which could be an indication that the administration’s efforts are having an effect.

There’s another development reflected in the data that shows how our understanding of what constitutes rape is evolving. While more “forcible” sexual offenses were reported between 2001 to 2011, there was a whopping 90% decline in “non forcible” sexual offenses, from 461 in 2001 to 45 in 2011. It’s not a stretch to infer that some of the rise in “forcible” offenses is because colleges stopped classifying so many assaults as “non forcible.”

Misconceptions about rape and sexual assault lead some college administrators to mistakenly believe that sexual assaults between intimate partners or involving a victim incapacitated by alcohol don’t count as “forcible” sexual assault. The change in reporting patterns likely reflects a reeducation of college administrators on the appropriate definitions of force, says W. Scott Lewis, a lawyer at the NCHERM group, a firm focused on safety and risk management in higher education. “They are now starting to realize that force also includes rendering someone incapacitated, coercion, and intimidation,” Lewis says. “If I take you out and watch you take shot after shot while I drink one glass of wine, there’s an element of force–using the alcohol instead of a knife.”

TIME Sexual Assault

The Debate: How Should College Campuses Handle Sexual Assault?

From survivors to politicians, activists and lawyers for the accused, TIME has gathered opinions from across party lines to weigh in on how to keep students safe. Here's what they had to say.

Recent research revealed that one in five women report being assaulted on college campuses. That shocking number has students, parents and politicians questioning the way schools protect students and adjudicate the cases of sexual assault. Read more in this week’s cover story about the sexual assault crisis on American college campuses.

VIDEO: My Rapist Is Still on Campus

Step Up. It’s Time by Joe Biden, Vice President of the United States

Rape Culture Is a Panic Where Paranoia, Censorship, and False Accusations Flourish by Christina Hoff Sommers, scholar

We Will Not Allow These Crimes to Be Swept Under the Rug Any Longer by Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Senator

Society Continues to Misplace Blame on Survivors by Mariska Hargitay, founder of Joyful Heart Foundation and star of Law & Order: SVU

Sexual Assault Prevention and Bystander Intervention by Philip J. Hanlon, President of Dartmouth College

The Battle Over Sexual Assault Is the Civil Rights Movement of Our Time by Gloria Allred, attorney and activist

He Was Turned On by My Distress by Emma Sulkowicz, student survivor

Some Rules About Consent Are Unfair to Male Students by Matthew Kaiser, attorney

We Need Transparency On the Issue of Fraternity Rape by Caitlin Flanagan, journalist

Violating Student Victims’ Rights Is Expensive by Nancy Chi Cantalupo, law professor

Overbroad Definitions of Sexual Assault are Deeply Counter-Productive by Jed Rubenfeld, law professor

Consent Must Be Created, Not Given by Jonathan Kalin, student activist

Universities and Fraternities Must Tell the Whole Truth by Douglas E. Fierberg, attorney

We Must Look at How We Teach Our Boys What It Means to Be a Man by Neil Irvin, executive director of Men Can Stop Rape

‘I’m Proud’ to See My Alma Mater Investigated For Mishandling Rape by Jaclyn Friedman, activist and author

 

TIME Sexual Assault

Joe Biden to Colleges: ‘Step Up. It’s Time’

Vice President Biden Speaks On White House Task Force To Protect Students From Sexual Assault
Joe Biden on April 29, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Win McNamee—Getty Images

Vice President Joe Biden has voiced his opinion about the sexual assault problem on college campuses across the country, telling TIME that the White House wants to pressure university presidents to figure out a better way to handle claims of rape

Joe Biden is the Vice President of the United States

I believe that the vast majority of college presidents are right minded and like stockholders putting pressure on CEOs, the White House wants to put pressure on them to change. You don’t want to be a school that mishandles rape. Guess what? Step up. It’s time. Its absolutely time because the moral disapprobation of society is the most powerful tool for effecting change in the cultural norms that doggedly hang on.

(You can read more opinions in TIME’s special report: Ending Campus Sexual Assault and get the full story in this week’s cover article by Eliza Gray: The Sexual Assault Crisis on American Campuses.)

TIME Sexual Assault

‘My Rapist Is Still on Campus': Sex Assault in the Ivy League

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Last month, 23 Columbia and Barnard students filed a federal Title IX complaint alleging that the university mishandled sexual assault cases. Emma Sulkowicz is one of the complainants. The junior says she and two other women reported the same attacker to the university. All three cases were dismissed. Emma tells her story about what it’s like to report an assault in the Ivy League:

“During my hearing, one panelist kept asking me how it was physically possible for anal rape to happen. I was put in the horrible position of trying to explain how this terrible thing happened to me.” The man who Emma says attacked her still lives on campus. (You can read more opinions in TIME’s special report: Ending Campus Sexual Assault, including views from a lawyer who represents the accused and the president of Dartmouth. And get the full story in this week’s cover article by Eliza Gray: The Sexual Assault Crisis on American Campuses.)

TIME Sexual Assault

Rape Culture is a ‘Panic Where Paranoia, Censorship, and False Accusations Flourish’

Christina Hoff Sommers
Larry Contratti

Christina Hoff Sommers is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a TIME contributor, and author of several books, including The War Against Boys. She hosts a weekly video blog The Factual Feminist

On January 27, 2010, University of North Dakota officials charged undergraduate Caleb Warner with sexually assaulting a fellow student. He insisted the encounter was consensual, but was found guilty by a campus tribunal and thereupon expelled and banned from campus.

A few months later, Warner received surprising news. The local police had determined not only that Warner was innocent, but that the alleged victim had deliberately falsified her charges. She was charged with lying to police for filing a false report, and fled the state.

Cases like Warner’s are proliferating. Here is a partial list of young men who have recently filed lawsuits against their schools for what appear to be gross mistreatment in campus sexual assault tribunals: Drew Sterrett—University of Michigan, John Doe—Swarthmore, Anthony Villar—Philadelphia University, Peter Yu—Vassar, Andre Henry—Delaware State, Dez WellsXavier, and Zackary Hunt—Denison. Presumed guilty is the new legal principle where sex is concerned.

Sexual assault on campus is a genuine problem—but the new rape culture crusade is turning ugly. The list of falsely accused young men subject to kangaroo court justice is growing apace. Students at Boston University demanded that a Robin Thicke concert be cancelled: His hit song Blurred Lines is supposedly a rape anthem. (It includes the words, “I know you want it.”) Professors at Oberlin, University of California, Santa Barbara, and Rutgers have been urged to place “trigger warnings” on class syllabi that include books like the Great Gatsby—too much misogynist violence. This movement is turning our campuses into hostile environments for free expression and due process. And so far, university officials, political leaders, and the White House are siding with the mob.

It appears that we are in the throes of one of those panics where paranoia, censorship, and false accusations flourish—and otherwise sensible people abandon their critical facilities. We are not facing anything as extreme as the Salem Witch Trials or the McCarthy inquisitions. But today’s rape culture movement bears some striking similarities to a panic that gripped daycare centers in the 1980s.

In August 1983, an anguished mother reported to the police that her 2-year old son had been horrifically abused in the McMartin preschool in Manhattan Beach, California. She described a network of underground tunnels where school staff had sodomized her child and forced him to watch animal sacrifices. The mother was mentally disturbed and her story had no basis in reality. But the news media seized on the story, and paranoia about Satanic Cults became a national epidemic. Parents were already on edge: advocacy groups, politicians, and the media had warned that nearly 50,000 children were being abducted by strangers, and 4,000 of them murdered, every year. As news of the McMartin barbarity spread, daycare personnel in schools across the nation found themselves implicated in the crime of satanic-ritual child abuse. A national network of abuse-therapists promptly materialized. Through the use of intimidating interviewing techniques, they egged on children to “remember” terrible abuses in their daycare.

The abuse therapists were joined by an influential group of conspiracy-minded feminists, including Gloria Steinem and Catharine MacKinnon. When a few civil libertarian feminists—Carol Tavris, Wendy Kaminer, Ellen Willis, and Debbie Nathan—tried to blow the whistle on the witch-hunt, they were vilified by the conspiracy caucus as backlashers, child abuse apologists, and “obedient ‘daddies’ girls of male editors.”

From the start of the scare in 1983 until its ending in the mid-1990s, untold numbers of children were subject to manipulative therapies and hundreds of innocent adults faced charges of ritual child abuse. Several of the accused would spend years in prison for crimes that never happened. A recent Slate article called it “one of the most damaging moral panics in America’s history,” which only began to abate when skeptical journalists got round to checking facts and asking questions. A 1985 story in the Los Angeles Times informed readers that, according to FBI reports, the number of child kidnappings by strangers in 1984 was 67, not 50,000

Today’s college rape panic is an eerie recapitulation of the daycare abuse panic. Just as the mythical “50,000 abducted children” fueled paranoia about child safety in the 1980s, so today’s hysteria is incited by the constantly repeated, equally fictitious “one-in-five women on campus is a victim of rape”—which even President Obama has embraced.

The one-in-five number is derived from surveys where biased samples of respondents are asked an artful combination of straightforward and leading questions, reminiscent of the conclusory interviews behind the daycare agitation. A much-cited CDC study, for example, first tells respondents: “Please remember that even if someone uses alcohol or drugs, what happens to them is not their fault.” Then it asks: “When you were drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent, how many people ever had vaginal sex with you.” (Emphasis mine.) The CDC counted all such sexual encounters as rapes.

Reputable studies suggest that approximately one-in-forty college women are victims of rape or sexual assault (assault includes verbal threats as well as unwanted sexual grabbing and fondling). One-in-forty is still too many women. But it hardly constitutes a “rape culture” requiring White House intervention.

Once again, conspiracy feminists are at the forefront of this movement. Just as feminist psychologists persuaded children that they had been abused, so women’s activists have persuaded many young women that what they might have dismissed as a foolish drunken hookup was actually a felony rape. “Believe the children,” said the ritual abuse experts during the day care scare. “Believe the survivors,” say today’s rape culturalists. To not believe an alleged victim is to risk being called a rape apologist.

Some will say that these moral panics, while overblown, do call attention to serious problems. This is deeply mistaken. The hysteria around daycare abuse and campus rape shed no light: rather they confuse and discredit genuine cases of abuse and violence. Molestation and rape are horrific crimes that warrant serious attention and vigorous response. Panics breed chaos and mob justice. They claim innocent victims, undermine social trust, and teach us to doubt the evidence of our own experience.

E.M. Forster said it best in A Passage to India, referring to a panic among “good citizens” following a highly dubious accusation of rape: “Pity, wrath, and heroism filled them, but the power of putting two and two together was annihilated.”

(You can read more opinions in TIME’s special report: Ending Campus Sexual Assault and get the full story in this week’s cover article by Eliza Gray: The Sexual Assault Crisis on American Campuses.)

TIME Sexual Assault

Kirsten Gillibrand: ‘We Will Not Allow These Crimes to Be Swept Under the Rug Any Longer’

Kirsten Gillibrand
Kirsten Gillibrand Charles Dharapak—AP

Kirsten Gillibrand is a United States Senator from New York.

After a long and hard-fought effort to reform the military justice system, my office was approached by two extraordinary young women. They told me a story similar to what I had heard over and over from our brave men and women in uniform.

They were survivors of sexual assault. And after enduring horrific acts of sexual violence, they were then betrayed by their schools when they tried to report their assaults.

But these students refuse to be denied justice. So they organized across the country to hold their colleges and universities responsible. And they are increasingly speaking out, reliving the worst moments of their lives to total strangers and the media in the hope that other young women won’t suffer the same fate.

That is the definition of courage. I cannot tell you how inspiring these women are to me personally, and I feel a responsibility to act on their behalf because the price of a college education should never include a one in five chance of being sexually assaulted.

We should never accept the fact that women are at a greater risk of sexual assault as soon as they step onto a college campus. But today they are. And it has to end.

Part of the problem is a pure lack of understanding of the true nature of campus sexual assault. These are not dates gone bad, or a good guy who had too much to drink. This is a crime largely perpetrated by repeat offenders, who instead of facing a prosecutor and a jail cell, remain on campus after a short-term suspension, if punished at all.

Another issue is that colleges and universities across the country would prefer not to acknowledge they have a problem for obvious public relations reasons. 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.

Our goal should be to increase the abysmally low reporting rates for sexual assaults on campus and make it in the school’s immediate best interest to take proactive steps to protect their students and rid their campuses of sexual predators. The best way to accomplish this goal is through transparency and accountability to flip the incentives that currently reward keeping sexual assault in the shadows.

As a first step, I teamed up with Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, a former sex crimes prosecutor and powerful voice for victims, to secure the resources we need to investigate more cases, and enforce the laws we have.

As it stands today, the federal agencies in charge of enforcing campus sex assault laws are left to a fraction of the funding and staff needed to be effective. And without the right oversight, nearly two-thirds of schools are failing to even report crime statistics as they are required to by current law.

But this is only the beginning Senator McCaskill and I will be taking this growing crisis head on with additional bipartisan action to hold colleges and universities accountable with stiff, binding penalties, and bring more transparency through a national survey of campus sexual assaults that student survivors and advocates consistently make as their top priority.

We will not allow these crimes to be swept under the rug any longer. For all of our young people who dream of going to college, and for all of our students on campus today — they deserve better. They deserve safety and accountability. Simply put, they deserve action.

(You can read more opinions in TIME’s special report: Ending Campus Sexual Assault and get the full story in this week’s cover article by Eliza Gray: The Sexual Assault Crisis on American Campuses.)

TIME Sexual Assault

Mariska Hargitay: ‘Society Continues to Misplace Blame on Survivors’

Courtesy of Mariska Hargitay

Mariska Hargitay is the founder and president of the Joyful Heart Foundation and stars in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Despite the progress we as a nation have made in the movement to end sexual violence, much work remains.

Society continues to misplace blame and shame on survivors—both women and men—on college campuses and everywhere else. That has to end. We must confront the myths and excuses that help perpetuate sexual assault. We must speak about these issues, boldly, thoughtfully and often, because criminals thrive when we are silent, when we are reluctant to engage, when we insist that these issues are too murky to sort out.

I may not see the end of this violence in my lifetime, but I am committed to doing everything I can to bring it about.

(You can read more opinions in TIME’s special report: Ending Campus Sexual Assault and get the full story in this week’s cover article by Eliza Gray: The Sexual Assault Crisis on American Campuses.)

TIME Sexual Assault

Dartmouth’s President on Sexual Assault Prevention and Bystander Intervention

Philip J. Hanlon is the president of Dartmouth College

Prevention efforts are critical if we are to rid our campuses of the extreme behaviors that harm our community and distract us from the passion of our pursuits. Through the Dartmouth Bystander Initiative (DBI), we are instructing individual students, faculty and staff to intervene at the first signs of trouble. To date, more than 800 Dartmouth students have been trained in DBI and we expect up to 1,400 more to be trained by the end of the month.

But, we are doing even more to mobilize the community as a whole. We have established earlier this year the Center for Community Action and Prevention to serve as the hub for all our violence prevention programs, including DBI. At the same time, we are collaborating with leaders in Washington DC and across higher education to identify the best prevention strategies, resources, and support to enhance the engagement of our communities in the all-important task of stopping extreme behavior before it happens.

And in July, Dartmouth will host a Summit on Sexual Assault that will bring together higher ed leaders and experts from around the country to strengthen prevention efforts and better promote the safety and well-being of our students.

(You can read more opinions in TIME’s special report: Ending Campus Sexual Assault and get the full story in this week’s cover article by Eliza Gray: The Sexual Assault Crisis on American Campuses.)

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