Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) released the anticipated results of her campus sexual assault survey in a report titled, “Sexual Violence on Campus: How Too Many Institutions of Higher Education are Failing to Protect Students.”
After surveying a national sample of 440 four-year institutions of higher education, Sen. McCaskill has detailed a number of shortcomings she believes “affect nearly every stage of the institutions’ responses to sexual violence” and demonstrate that “many institutions are failing to comply with the law and best practices in how they handle sexual violence among students.”
The following points are highlighted in the report’s executive summary as key findings from the survey:
· Lack of Knowledge About the Scope of the Problem. According to the most recent report conducted by the Department of Justice, less than 5% of rape victims attending college report their attack to law enforcement. Experts agree that annual climate surveys—confidential student surveys regarding behaviors that constitute or are associated with sexual assault—are one of the best ways to get an accurate portrait of sexual assault issues on a campus. However, only 16% of the institutions in the Subcommittee’s national sample conduct climate surveys.
· Failure to Encourage Reporting of Sexual Violence. Many policies and procedures have been shown to improve reporting of sexual violence on college campuses. These include allowing reports to be made via a hotline or website, designating an official who can receive reports, and permitting survivor reports to be kept confidentially. However, only 51% of institutions in the national sample provide a hotline to survivors and only 44% of institutions in the national sample provide the option to report sexual assaults online. Approximately 8% of institutions still do not allow confidential reporting.
· Lack of Adequate Sexual Assault Training. More than 20% of institutions in the national sample provide no sexual assault response training at all for members of their faculty and staff. More than 30% of schools do not provide any sexual assault training for students.
· Reported Sexual Violence Goes Uninvestigated. Federal law requires every institution that knows or reasonably should have known about sexual violence to conduct an investigation to determine what occurred. More than 40% of schools in the national sample have not conducted a single investigation in the past five years. More than 20% of the nation’s largest private institutions conducted fewer investigations than the number of incidents they reported to the Department of Education, with some institutions reporting as many as seven times more incidents of sexual violence than they have investigated.
· Lack of Adequate Services for Survivors. Sexual violence survivors may need a variety of services, such as academic and residential accommodations, to enable them to continue their education after the assault. While most schools reported using a team approach to respond to sexual assaults, their approach often does not include representatives of services that could help the survivor. For example, only 25% of institutions that use a team approach incorporate the local prosecutor’s office. And though more than 90% of institutions state that sexual assault survivors have access to community victim assistance/advocacy programs, only 51% of schools reported incorporating those services into their team approach. Most institutions also fail to provide access to a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE), a specially trained nurse who can provide medical and other services to survivors of sexual assault.
· Lack of Trained, Coordinated Law Enforcement. Law enforcement officials at 30% of institutions in the national sample receive no training on how to respond to reports of sexual violence. In addition, more than 70% of institutions in the national sample do not have protocols regarding how the institution and local law enforcement should work together to respond to sexual violence.
· Adjudication Fails to Comply with Requirements and Best Practices. Federal law requires institutions that receive claims of sexual assault to conduct an adjudication process to determine whether an assault occurred and, if it did, conduct an adjudication to reach a final determination. Many schools use adjudication processes that do not comply with best practices. More than 30% of institutions in the national sample failed to provide training regarding “rape myths” to the persons who adjudicate sexual assault claims. More than 40% of the nation’s largest public schools allow students to help adjudicate sexual assault cases. More than 20% of institutions in the national sample give the athletic department oversight of sexual violence cases involving student athletes.
· Lack of Coordinated Oversight. Institutions are required to name one individual to serve as their Title IX coordinator, with responsibility for coordinating the institution’s Title IX compliance efforts, including coordinating any investigations of sexual harassment and sexual violence. More than 10% of institutions in the Subcommittee’s national sample do not have a Title IX coordinator.
Important note: The appendix of the report includes a detailed breakdown of every survey question, which includes how the respondents answered according to institutional type (large, small, public, private, NCAA division, etc.).