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Lessons to be Learned from Mishandled Campus Rape Cases

Breaking-the-silenceNo matter how many times I hear the statistics on college student rapes and sexual assaults, I am always taken aback by the realities of what happens on college and university campuses: One in four young women will be sexually assaulted before they graduate; 90 percent of campus rapists get away with it.
It’s not a new problem, yet still policies and procedures at many of our nation’s colleges and universities fail to adequately address the issue. Last week, Boston’s newsmagazine program Chronicle shined a spotlight on this critical issue, highlighting cases at Syracuse University and Emerson College, which has been under fire for allegations it mishandled two sexual assault cases last fall.
The program is worth watching and sharing. I am a strong believer that for real change to happen, victims’ stories must be heard and felt. But there are also lessons to be learned from institutions who are currently grappling with how to handle this problem—and the ones, like Emerson, where mistakes were made, but are now being addressed in concrete and meaningful ways.
I know I am not alone in my hope that campus rape statistics will improve—quickly and substantially, and through the intentional and proactive efforts of colleges and universities. Until then I applaud Chronicle, and the media in general, for making sure we don’t forget this very real epidemic, and institutions like Emerson, Amherst and the University of Montana for taking concrete steps to make their institutions stronger and safer.
For more on this topic as it relates to Title IX, see Teresa Valerio Parrot’s earlier entry: Title IX: What You Need to Know and Must Read 
Segment 1:
Breaking the Silence: Campus Rape Epidemic
Segment 2:
Campus Rape Victims’ Second Assault
Segment 3:
Inside the Mind of a Rapist
Segment 4:
Campus Rape: Speaking Out