Sexual assault in universities

The US Department of Education has released a list of 55 universities that they are investigating to see if they are responding properly to reports of sexual violence and harassment complaints, as required under legislation known as Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

This is simply a list of current investigations. It does not mean that that those listed are guilty nor does it mean that other universities will not be added to the list later. It also does not mean that there are no assaults at those universities not on the list but only that there is an adequate mechanism for reporting and handling such assaults. What the list does reveal is that this problem of sexual assault and harassment on university campuses spans every type of institutions of higher education: public/private, rural/urban, large/small, elite/community colleges.

I was pleased to see that my university was not on that list but that is no grounds for complacency. Although we have had many discussions to alert everyone who works here on the importance of treating allegations of assault and harassment seriously and know how to respond and report them properly, we have also had the situation where the dean of our law school resigned following allegations that he was sexually harassing faculty, staff, and students and retaliating against those who reported him. That issue is now before the courts.


  1. Markovitch says

    I’m curious why the issue of sexual assault falls upon the university or college to deal with. Shouldn’t that be a matter for the police? If a crime was committed against me while I was at school, it would never even occur to me that I should tell anyone at the university (other than campus security). Are universities in the USA radically different from universities here in Canada? Here, students show up on campus in the morning and go home at night — it’s like a job that pays negative dollars but comes with a great letter of reference at the end. Most of us don’t expect the university to act as a criminal justice system of any kind.

  2. Mano Singham says


    The student has every right to go to the police. The point is that many don’t. They are often so upset that they often first tell someone they know about what happened. The university has to then take action which, if the crime is serious enough, requires reporting it to the authorities. At other times, the crime may not rise to that level and the student may not want to do so either for many reasons, but the university is expected to have in place internal investigation and judicial systems that give students correct information about their rights, provides them with protection and if, necessary, take action against the perpetrators. This becomes more important in residential universities, which are like small villages really.

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