College campus assault is one of the most talked-about issues in the country, especially this time of year when students and parents scout potential schools.
“Parents say that they’re just as concerned with crime stats as they are with tuition payments,” said Kristin Wing, a Kansas consultant who works with fraternities and sororities and sits on the National Sigma Alpha Epsilon task Force on sexual assault.
On her website Greekgab.com for parents, students and Greek advisers, Wing talks about campus safety, including sexual assaults.
Rolling Stone magazine has now expressed skepticism about its own article detailing a horrific fraternity house gang rape at the University of Virginia. Still, the piece intensified attention paid to campus sexual assault and the slow response of schools to the problem.
Even before the story appeared, student protesters, women’s groups and politicians described the threat as an ongoing crisis. President Barack Obama created the Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault and said the problem “is an affront to our basic humanity.”
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, launched an investigation that found schools weren’t responding well to reports of rape and sexual assault. In some cases, the penalty for the offense was as minor as having to write an essay. Many schools were not abiding by Title IX regulations designed to deal with gender discrimination, including sexual assault. And many poorly handled the issue in student handbooks and behavior codes. McCaskill said far too many failed to properly report the number of rapes on their campuses.
So Wing suggests students and parents make a point to find out how safe a student would be on the campus. “Knowing what questions to ask campus officials,” she said, “is vital.”
▪ What is your student code of conduct and how is it enforced?
▪ What kind of training does your school offer students about sexual assault on campus?
▪ How do students report sexual assault? Can they do it anonymously?
▪ How many reports of assault and violence are reported at your school?
▪ How many lawsuits related to sexual assault and violence are filed at your school? Is your school currently under federal investigation for Title IX infractions?
▪ What resources are available on campus for the student who is assaulted?
▪ How does your school assist a victim who wants to prosecute?