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  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    Elwood Watson: Sexual Assault is Gender Blind

    Dr. Elwood Watson is a professor of history and African-American studies at East Tennessee State University.The fact is that 2012 was a horrible year in terms of sexual assaults on college campuses.In June 2012, Trey Malone, a junior at Amherst College and a distinguished student both academically and athletically, took his own life after he was unable to deal with the immense trauma and intense emotions he suffered after being the victim of rape by a co-ed. After his suicide, it was discovered that Malone’s experience was not an aberration. On the contrary, he was one of a number of students on the prestigious, leafy, upscale, distinguished liberal arts institution who had been the victim of such a horrific sexual violation. His death made national headlines, caused the Amherst college community to erupt, (the campus president, Carolyn Martin, aggressively denounced the perpetrators of such crimes and led the effort in instituting policies and programs to combat such behavior) sparked widespread discussion on the campus and, once again,  brought the issue of rape and sexual assault to the forefront of national debate.

  • Originally published 08/15/2014

    Devil is in the Details of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act

    On Aug. 7, Hans Bader, a senior attorney at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, reported on one. CASA regulates how universities must approach sexual assault, including producing an annual survey of students' experiences, which will be published online. The penalties for non-compliance are massive: an initial penalty of up to 1 percent of the institution's operating budget and a potential $150,000 fine for each additional violation or misrepresentation — $150,000 per month if surveys are not completed to the standard required. Bader observed, "that [initial offense] would be a whopping $42 million for Harvard alone, since its budget is $4.2 billion."Even worse, "a provision ... lets the money be kept by the agency imposing the fine, the Education Department's (DOE) Office for Civil Rights (OCR)." This creates a huge incentive for OCR to be aggressively punitive or to accuse innocent universities of misrepresentation or substandard compliance. Even an inability to comply would not exempt institutions from fines. For example, they are required to enter into a "memorandum of understanding" with local law enforcement. If the latter refuses, then "[t]he Secretary of Education will then have the discretion to grant the waiver." Not the obligation but the discretion.

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