How should colleges handle on-campus sexual assault?

Apr 19, 2013

In Eagle Rock, California, Occidental College’s Thorne Hall; Credit: victoriabernal/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)

A case brought against Occidental College by several current and former students alleges that the school failed to respond adequately to sexual assault on campus. The group of Occidental students and alumni includes some who say the college failed to protect against sexual assault – their attorney, Gloria Allred, argues Allred that 37 students were “raped, sexually assaulted, battered, harassed or retaliated against for speaking out against sexual violence.”

Occidental is in the process of reviewing its policies on sexual assault, and recently updated its approach to sexual misconduct cases on campus. The school is not the first to deal with allegations of inappropriate responses to sexual assault – female students at UNC Greensboro and Vassar have notably spoken out about the mishandling of cases in recent years.

How should schools handle sexual misconduct cases? Who is responsible for carrying out prosecution, the university, or local law enforcement? How can colleges better protect their students from sexual assault? Should they be liable for crimes committed on campus?

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