The XX Factor

Sexual Assault on Campus, Still With Us

As Ann points out on Feministing , it’s dispiriting to read this new investigation of campus sexual assult by Kristen Lombardi for the Center for Public Integrity. We’re supposed to be past the time when universities are indifferent to women’s reports of assault, or actively discourage them from going to the police or bringing disciplinary charges, or force them to keep the proceedings secret if they do. And yet clearly we’re not. This gibes with my own reporting for a story for the Yale Alumni Magazine several years ago (which I can’t link to because it’s not online). The question of what’s rape or gray rape or date rape remains a confusing one for the women who experience these things and all the variations on them. But women who come forward should not find themselves blocked by their schools, and that is what is still happening, far more often than we’d like to think, Lombardi’s reporting shows.

Also troubling is the confusion at universities over the Clery Act, which requires schools to report crimes committed on or near campus, and also the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which requires them to keep confidential student records, including disciplinary records. Lombardi explains all of this well; I’ll just add that it’s past time for Congress or the federal Department of Education, which monitors compliance with Clery, to clean this up.