EYES WIDE OPEN ON CAMPUS SEXUAL ASSAULT
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KEEPING STUDENTS’ AND PARENTS’ EYES WIDE OPEN ON CAMPUS SEXUAL ASSAULT
By Wendy Murphy
For The Patriot Ledger
August 17, 2013
Kids are headed off to college and while parents don’t like hearing
that college is a dangerous place, statistics show that sexual assault,
especially in connection with drinking, occurs with shocking frequency.
In fact, girls who go to college are at greater risk of sexual assault
than are girls who do NOT go to college. This fact seems galling
considering that federal civil rights laws such as Title IX and Title
IV guarantee girls EXTRA protection from sexual assault in college –
compared to laws in the real world.
Most students leave high school unaware of their civil rights. And they
don’t understand that having sex with an incapacitated person is a
serious felony. No matter how much someone SEEMS to be consenting, it
is unlawful to impose oneself on a person who does not have the
capacity to decide.
Which does not mean all “sex with a buzz” should lead to prosecution –
but the burden of restraint rests with the aggressor, and a mistake
about consent is never the victim’s fault.
Bad schools do not encourage restraint. They try to prevent rape by
scaring girls and warning them to watch their drinks and do “bystander
Good schools mete out swift and effective punishments, and they talk
about rape openly on campus as a “civil rights” problem on par with
violence “based on race.”
The worst schools include top-tier places like Harvard, Princeton and
UVA, each of which is under investigation by the feds because of
complaints filed by me alleging that they violated women’s civil rights
because of their unfair handling of sexual assault.
Problem is, schools don’t worry about federal investigations unless the
mainstream media WRITES ABOUT IT and with certain elite schools, the
press, inexplicably, just never covers the story.
The New York Times, Bloomberg and Time Magazine have reported on
relatively minor problems at a few schools, but they’ve ignored
Harvard, Princeton and UVA.
I was recently contacted by a reporter for Time Magazine who told me
she was doing a piece on “Harvard, Princeton and UVA.” She said she
didn’t understand why the media hadn’t written about those
investigations. I spent an hour telling her the basics, and I explained
the special importance of the case against UVA because it involves the
civil rights division of the US Department of Health and Human Services
in addition to that of the Department of Education (DOE).
When the story ran, the reporter who said Harvard, Princeton and UVA
were the ONLY focus of her piece didn’t mention a one – even though
Harvard and Princeton have been under investigation for nearly three
years – a newsworthy point in itself given that investigations are
supposed to be completed within 180 days.
A good journalist would want the public to know that complaints filed
in 2010 against Harvard and Princeton were the impetus behind
significant reforms and that those cases were sent to DOE headquarters
in DC (along with strong letters of support from national anti-violence
organizations) accompanied by a request that the DOE issue global
guidance for all schools because problems at Harvard and Princeton were
DOE agreed to issue global guidance and In April, 2011, a Dear
Colleague Letter “DCL” was released in which standards for addressing
campus sexual assault were spelled out in new clarifying detail.
The Time Magazine writer didn’t mention any of that, nor did she write
that within days of the DCL being issued, elite schools started pushing
a bill through Congress to overturn it.
Known as “Campus SaVE,” the law (which becomes effective in early 2014)
gives schools new authority to violate women’s civil rights. For
example, “final” decisions in sexual assault hearings can be delayed
until the eve of the victim’s graduation. The bill also allows schools
to ignore violence against women unless an incident is actually
“reported.” Before SaVE, schools had to act if they “knew or should
have known” that an incident occurred.
SaVE also allows schools to treat the word of the victim as per se LESS
credible than the word of the offender.
And SaVE requires training on the criminal rape law definition of
“non-consent” instead of the more generous civil rights standard of
“unwelcome” or “unwanted.”
Some elite schools think their fancy degrees are the only thing that
matters. But too many victims never recover enough from the assault —
or from the school’s betrayal — to give a damn.
Parents should speak with their checkbooks. If a school applies Campus
SaVE instead of Title IX and the DCL, they should choose a different
And we should all ignore the mainstream press on this topic because
they’re banking, literally, on our allegiance to the naive idea that if
a story about Harvard, Princeton or UVA isn’t in a “serious”
publication, those schools aren’t doing anything wrong.
Our daughters – and sons – are counting on us to know better.