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Courts, Not Campuses, Should Decide Sexual Assault Cases

The BriefGet Up To Speed

High-profile cases have recently put campus sexual assault in the spotlight. One question that has repeatedly come up: why are these cases being handled by campuses at all? Title IX requires that every school receiving federal aid must take concrete steps to deal with hostile environments and sexual assault. This leaves colleges and universities with the task of figuring out what policies and procedures to enforce. Proponents say that campus investigations serve a real need, forcing schools to respond to violence and protecting the interests of victims in ways that the criminal justice system may fail. Can schools provide due process for defendants and adequate justice for victims, or do these cases belong in the courts?


Sexual assault on campus is a serious problem. But efforts to protect women from a putative epidemic of violence have led to misguided policies that infringe on the civil rights of men.

Sunday, December 7, 2014
Emily Yoffe

Treating rape as a matter of academic misconduct to be handled by deans of students rather than as a violent crime to be handled by police and prosecutors is a gross disservice both to victims and those wrongly accused, who are entitled to the full protections of the American criminal-justice process, including the presumption of innocence.

Friday, June 5, 2015
The Editors

Colleges have to resist misguided federal policies. The solution is to work with the local police.

Saturday, February 7, 2015
Judith Shulevitz

College disciplinary boards have an abysmal record of handling sexual assault cases.

Monday, March 30, 2015
Robert Carle

In the post-Title IX landscape, sexual panic rules. Slippery slopes abound.

Friday, February 27, 2015
Laura Kipnis

Can we reconcile the belated attention to rape on campus with due process?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Nancy Gertner

In response to coverage of university mistreatment of sexual assault survivors, many observers have wondered why schools handle these crimes at all: why not just leave it to the police? Here’s the answer in a couple easy bullet points.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969

People who work with sexual assault victims slam the proposal as "colossally stupid legislation."

Sunday, September 13, 2015
Tyler Kingkade

Sexual harassment that creates a hostile environment interferes with that right to educational access, and thus schools are obligated to prevent and address it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Diane L. Rosenfeld

As students at Yale Law School, where Rubenfeld teaches, we find his argument not only disrespects survivors of violence but also undermines the work of a nationwide movement to build safer, more just campuses.

Monday, November 17, 2014
Statement by Yale Law Students

School investigations don’t look like trials because they aren’t supposed to.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Alexandra Brodsky

Arguments [that sexual assault cases should be left to the criminal justice system] assume that the guilty are more likely to be punished under that system, which is rarely the case.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Tyler Kingkade

Senator Claire McCaskill hosts a round table to address how and when law enforcement should be brought into campus sexual assault cases.

Monday, June 23, 2014
Eliza Gray

A new federal policy seeks to tackle the college sexual-assault problem—but can it change the status quo?

Friday, September 11, 2015
Tyler Bishop

How did a law originally meant to prevent gender discrimination morph into one being used to combat rape?

Friday, June 6, 2014
Robin Wilson

Sexual assault advocacy organization leaders, student victims, and campus safety officials spoke at a the second of several roundtable discussions, organized by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) aimed at combating rape and sexual assaults on college campuses.

Monday, June 2, 2014
Senate Roundtable Discussion

The third in a series of roundtable discussion, this meeting focused on Title IX and the differences between the criminal justice system and the university-based administrative process for prosecuting sexual assault on college campuses.

Monday, June 23, 2014
Senate Roundtable Discussion

Can universities crack down on sexual violence without violating the due process rights of either the accused or accusers? An ACS panel presented with the American Prospect and The Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

Thursday, March 12, 2015
American Constitution Center
Legal Framework

Title IX states that: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Wednesday, April 1, 2015
U.S. Department of Education

The Clery Act requires colleges and universities, both public and private, participating in federal student aid programs to disclose campus safety information, and imposes certain basic requirements for handling incidents of sexual violence and emergency situations.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Jeanne Clery Act Information

The sexual harassment of students, including sexual violence, interferes with students’ right to receive an education free from discrimination and, in the case of sexual violence, is a crime.

Monday, April 4, 2011
Office for Civil Rights

If you have experienced sexual violence, here are some things you should know about your Title IX rights.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969
Office for Civil Rights
Federal Guidance

The following questions and answers further clarify the legal requirements and guidance articulated in the DCL and the 2001 Guidance and include examples of proactive efforts schools can take to prevent sexual violence and remedies schools may use to end such conduct, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Catherine E. Lhamon

This website includes information for students, schools, and anyone interested in finding resources on how to respond to and prevent sexual assault.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969

The Task Force was established with a mandate to strengthen federal enforcement efforts and provide schools with additional tools to help combat sexual assault on their campuses.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014
White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault

A Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation survey of current and recent college students living on or near campus examines their experiences and opinions about sexual assault.

Friday, June 12, 2015
Washington Post

List of sexual violence investigations open at the postsecondary level, including the dates the specific investigations were initiated. As of June 17, 2015, there are 131 sexual violence cases under investigation at 118 postsecondary institutions.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Tyler Kingkade

This report uses the National Crime Victimization Survey to compare the rape and sexual assault victimization of female college students and nonstudents.

Monday, December 1, 2014
Sofi Sinozich and Lynn Langton

The CSA Study was undertaken to document the prevalence of distinct types of sexual assault among university women as well as context, consequences, and reporting of distinct types of sexual assault among a large sample of undergraduate women from two large universities.

Saturday, December 1, 2007
Christopher Krebs

In a study of undergraduate women, 19% experienced attempted or completed sexual assault since entering college.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969
Injury Preventions & Control: Division of Violence Prevention

Sexual violence statistics.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969
National Sexual Violence Resource Center

The data are drawn from the OPE Campus Safety and Security Statistics website database to which crime statistics and fire statistics (as of the 2010 data collection) are submitted annually by all postsecondary institutions that receive Title IV funding (i.e., those that participate in federal student aid programs). This data collection is required by the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act and the Higher Education Opportunity Act.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969