Sen. McCaskill: Campus Sexual Assault Survey Results a 'wakeup call' for Schools

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator and former sex crimes prosecutor Claire McCaskill today released the results of a first-of-its-kind national survey on campus sexual assaults—results McCaskill said must serve as a “wakeup call” to the nation’s institutions of higher learning.

The massive survey of schools demonstrates a disturbing failure by many institutions to comply with the law and with best practices in how they handle sexual violence against students—failures which affect nearly every stage of the institutions’ responses to sexual violence.

“If we’re going to turn the tide against sexual violence, survivors must be protected, empowered, and given the confidence that if they make the difficult choice to report a crime, they will be treated with respect and taken seriously,” McCaskill said. “This means we need institutions across the country to recognize sexual violence for what it is—a crime—and work to prevent it and effectively address it when it does occur. Unfortunately, the disturbing bottom line of this unprecedented, nationwide survey, is that many institutions continually violate the law and fail to follow best practices in how they handle sexual violence. These failures affect nearly every stage of institutions’ response to such crimes, and these results should serve as a call to action to our colleges and universities to tackle this terrible crime.”

Among the findings in McCaskill’s survey:

  • Investigations:  Federal law requires every institution that knows or reasonably should have known about an alleged sexual assault to conduct an investigation. But 41 percent of schools surveyed have not conducted a single investigation in the past five years. More than 21 percent of the nation’s largest private institutions conducted fewer investigations than the number of incidents they reported to the Department of Education, with some institutions reporting as many as seven times more incidents of sexual violence than they have investigated.
  • Training:  21 percent of institutions surveyed provide no sexual assault response training at all for members of their faculty and staff.  31 percent of schools do not provide any sexual assault training for students.
  • Title IX coordinator:  Colleges and universities are required to assign a staff or faculty member as a Title IX coordinator, with responsibility for coordinating the institution’s compliance efforts, including investigations of sexual harassment and sexual violence, but more than 10 percent of institutions surveyed do not have a Title IX coordinator.
  • Adjudication:  Federal law requires institutions that receive claims of sexual assault to conduct an adjudication process to determine whether an assault occurred and, if it did, to reach a determination. But:
    • 33 percent of schools failed to provide basic training to the people adjudicating claims.
    • 43 percent of the nation’s largest public schools let students help adjudicate cases.
    • 22 percent of institutions give athletic departments oversight of cases involving athletes.
  • Climate surveys:  Confidential climate surveys of students are one of the best ways to get an accurate portrait of assaults on a campus, but only 16 percent of schools conduct climate surveys.
  • Coordination with law enforcement:  Law enforcement officials at 30 percent of institutions receive no training on how to respond to reports of sexual violence, and 73 percent of institutions have no protocols on how the institution & law enforcement work together to respond to such violence.

Today’s announcement of results from this rigorous survey of 440 institutions of higher education—with the schools surveyed representing institutions currently educating more than five million students across the country—will be followed in the coming weeks by the introduction of comprehensive, bipartisan legislation. As McCaskill previously announced, in order to obtain candid feedback from each school, her office will not be releasing the names of the individual institutions surveyed.

McCaskill also recently held a series of three roundtable discussions, which convened stakeholders from across the country to focus on the Clery Act and the Campus SaVE Act, Title IX, and the Criminal Justice System & the Administrative Process. See video highlights of the previous roundtables here, here, and here. McCaskill is teaming up with Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, and Dean Heller of Nevada to better understand how colleges and universities handle sexual assaults on campus, as they craft legislative solutions.


To read original press release, visit Sen. Claire McCaskill's website. To read the report described above, "Sexual Violence on Campus: How Too Many Institutions of Higher Education Are Failing to Protect Students", click here.

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