2017 was a year of whistle blowers and revelations. Thanks to brave survivors who found the courage to come forward and speak out, a necessary and open discussion about sexual assault began. Unfortunately, while sexual assault in working careers became a hot topic, sexual assault on campuses are still being swept under the rug or ignored completely in hopes of avoiding a conversation about campus safety.
In 2013, the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (SaVE Act) was passed. The SaVE Act is an update to the Clery Act. The Clery Act is a federal legislation that requires colleges and universities participation in federal financial programs to record campus crime statistics and safety policies. The SaVE Act reinforces the Clery act in terms of expanding reporting, response and prevention education requirements around rape, acquaintance rape, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.
Such legislation brought attention and coverage not only to the injustices perpetuated on college campuses, but also the means by which they are investigated and prosecuted. It also empowered many victims of sexual assault and violence on campus to take a stand.
For instance, in April of 2014, 23 Columbia University students filed complaints with the federal government charging systematic mishandling of sexual assault claims and mistreatment of victims by the university.
In April of 2015, Erica Kinsman, a former Florida State student, filed a lawsuit against Jameis Winston for rape in 2012. Winston was the football team’s quarterback at the time. Winston won the Heisman Trophy during the 2013-2014 season. He was never questioned by the Tallahassee Police Department. In January 2015, Kinsman sued Florida State, which had cleared Winston.
And perhaps most infamously, in June of 2016, the former Stanford University student and swimmer Brock Turner was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman and sentenced to six months in county jail and three years of probation. He was also required to register as a sex offender. The sentence sparked outrage. Many deemed it as too lenient. The district attorney, Jeff Rosen, said, “The punishment does not fit the crime. Campus rape is no different than off-campus rape. Rape is rape.”
Moving forward many colleges are taking steps to prevent sexual assault and violence on campus. Being institutions of learning, most are leaning towards the education of students in attempt to curb sexual assault by instating mandatory courses and training on the subject. In some cases students must pass these classes with a minimum grade before they can register for classes. While it is impossible to compile a comprehensive list of every college that abides by a mandatory sexual assault policy, here is a list of top-ranked schools that do:
1. Colby College
Colby College hosts a mandatory sexual misconduct prevention programming for first-year and second-year students. It is an interactive two-session program hosted during orientation week. Colby also hosts a presentation called "Speak About It" which is "designed to introduce you to issues including sexual communication, sexual consent, sexual violence, and dating violence."
2. Colorado College
At Colorado College, all incoming and transfer students must complete "Think About It." "Think About It" is a three-part training requirement that examines the issues of drug and alcohol abuse, the hookup culture, sexual violence and healthy relationships in social, cultural and personal contexts.
3. Dartmouth College
In January 2017, Dartmouth College announced one of the boldest blueprints for culture change, mandating education on preventing sexual violence all four years of college. Dartmouth is also created the Bystander Training Program to increase engagement and awareness of bystanders who witness sexual assault. They have also instated an independent investigator model for reports of assault.
4. Harvard University
Harvard University hosts a mandatory online course for incoming students instated in 2016, but it is not mandatory for returning students. Returning students may opt out and attend an in person training session instead, however there is not penalty for failing to complete the module.
5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
All students, staff and faculty attending MIT must pass both a sexual assault education and training course. MIT has also incorporated more peer-to-peer and bystander intervention training activities to promote community awareness and safety.
6. Princeton University
Princeton University hosts multiple mandatory sexual assault prevention programs throughout the year. First year undergraduate and graduate students must complete "Not Anymore!" which is an online program. Second year students, staff and faculty must complete “Preventing Sexual Harassment,” another online program. They also host Sexual Assault Awareness Month programming and orientation programming to raise awareness.
7. The State of Minnesota
A Minnesota law passed in 2016 now requires all college students in the state to attend mandatory sexual assault prevention training within the first 10 days of school. Schools must also publicly disclose how many sexual assault complaints they investigate each year and how many result in disciplinary action. This is a huge step forward in the standardization of sexual assault policies and responses and proves a catalyst for other states to follow.
8. University of California
In 2016, the University of California updated it sexual assault policy to include the mandatory education and training of students within the first six weeks of school. This new policy is enacted across all undergraduate and graduate UC schools.
9. University of Maryland
All students, faculty and staff at the University of Maryland must complete an online sexual assault training course. For students, the online course must be completed before they can register for classes.
10. Wellesley College
Wellesley College also instates the program "Not Anymore!" Incoming students can complete the program on campus or prior to arriving on campus. During orientation week, students also attend an in-person program to talk about issues that plague their community.
These colleges and many others like them are taking steps in the right direction to address sexual assault and misconduct. Does your school have appropriate sexual assault prevention measures and programs? If not, think about starting one.
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