Responding to Sexual Violence on Campus
S. Daniel Carter, Margaret Mikkelsen  -  2008/9/24
http://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ovcproviderforum
 
 
We are collaborators of Flagship project to work with SV in campus. Which strategy has being most helpful to work with students? and to promote institutional policy to prevent and intervene with Sexual Violence with a response team?
 
1.  Margaret
  Bystander intervention training like that provided by the University of New Hampshire is a great way to help students understand their role in preventing sexual violence. Students can also take a leading role in social norms and social marketing campaigns. I'm not sure what you mean by promoting institutional policy. If you mean developing a policy, a group that includes students as well as staff and faculty to develop the policy with a clear timeframe, transparency, and opportunity for additional community input is a good way to go about it. The way the policy is presented to the community can also send a clear message about the administrations support for the policy and intention to implement it.
 
 
As a Law Enforcement Investigator I applaud you addressing this topic. As a parent, with one child already in college, what is the best way to discuss with our student/children? jfeweber@satx.rr.com
 
1.  Margaret
 We really encourage to parents to be open with their children, not only about the risks they face, but also about their responsibility to help make their community safer. You can talk with your children about strategies for intervening in sexually violent situations, about what consent really means, about how to support a friend who has been assaulted, about how to stand up to peers who promote sexually aggressive behavior. And of course, clearly stating your values and expectations goes a long way. Its very important that you make clear that you will support your child if he or she is ever sexually assaulted.
 
 
I am a crime victim advocate working at a large public university. Very few sexual assaults are reported to our campus police department--only 1-2 each year. Obviously, there are more than 1-2 assaults taking place on campus each year. What is the best way to increase reporting? What is the best way to approach the University administartion with the idea? Due to Cleary reporting, there is always a push to see campus crime statistics drop rather than increase.
 
1.  Margaret
 In our work with students, we've heard again and again that students want choices when it comes to reporting options. Having anonymous, confidential, and third-party (witness) reporting options is really helpful. Also, students want to know who is going to answer the phone when they call, and what exactly the process is that will be set in motion by that call. We've also seen schools set up online reporting forms. Immunity clauses for lesser offenses (for example, for victims who may have been violating the alcohol policy when they were assaulted) also encourages reporting. Clear statements of possible sanctions is helpful because students often feel there is no point in reporting if nothing is going to happen to the perpetrator. A school also needs to make it clear that retaliation against the victim is a violation of school policy. Approaching the administration can be tricky because no school wants to have a high number reported. But we tell high school students and their parents to be wary of schools with very low numbers, because that suggests something is wrong with the reporting procedures. It is better to be an honest school than a perfect school.
 
 
What would you say to college administrators who are leary of starting a rape awareness program or victims' services on campus because they believe it is bad publicity? In other words, they believe that parents will not send their children to schools where such services are necessary?
 
1.  Andrea
 I am currently in a Masters program at a large public university, which has special emergency stations all over campus, a special hotline to call if a student has been sexually assaulted, and on campus counseling services. I personally feel much better knowing that these measures are in place, and feel better knowing that the campus is taking measures to protect its students rather than turning a blind eye to a serious problem such as sexual violence. This is an issue on all college campuses - whether they admit it or not. I as a parent would feel much better knowing such safety measures are in place at my child's college.
 
2.  Margaret
 I would say that they need to realize that parents are more sophisticated than that. They want to know that their children are going to be safe, but they know (if they watch the news or read the paper) that sexual assault is a problem on campus. A school that takes a proactive approach that focuses on primary prevention (for example, providing bystander intervention training) looks to parents like a responsible school that takes the problem seriously and values the safety and well-being of all of its students.
 
 
I have heard that colleges have procedures where they have the victim believe into thinking that they should just leave the matter to the University Police instead of taking it to the local police in order for the school to maintain their reputation. Is this true? How many percentages of rapes happen on Campuses? If a sexual violence crime were to have occurred in a fraternity or Sorority house would that matter be addressed by the university police, since some houses are outside the schools?
 
1.  Bonnie Fisher
 For more information about the characteristics of sexual victimization of college women, see http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/182369.pdf
 
2.  Daniel Carter
 The jurisdiction of campus police can vary widely from institution to institution. In some cases they may have jurisdiction anywhere in the state while in other cases it may only be on campus owned property. An institution's annual Clery report should answer this question.
 
3.  Daniel Carter
 Studies have shown that for rapes involving female college students about a third of them happen on-campus with two-thirds occurring off-campus.
 
4.  Margaret
 We certainly hear accounts all the time that students have felt pressured not to report or to forget about the assault and move on. Whether this comes from a concern about the schools reputation or not, it certainly looks that way and we've seen the fallout from this kind of action at the University of Iowa recently. Fisher et als study (2000) on the sexual victimization of college women found that off-campus assaults were more common (about 66 of rapes off campus versus about 34 on). That said, almost 60 of rapes took place in the victims residence, 31 in other on campus residences, and 10.3 in a fraternity. For a more detailed breakdown of locations by type of assault, I recommend looking at Fishers study. But what is important for your question is the role of the university. If an assault is perpetrated or facilitated by a student against another student, the university has a responsibility to address the matter regardless of whether the violation took place on campus or off.
 
5.  Daniel Carter
 Campus police are often as qualified, if not more, than local police to investigate sexual assaults. Also, the Clery Act and other laws make at least basic information such as statistics about crimes reported to campus police public so this doesn't allow it to be kept secret.
 
 
Are you collaborating with the local Rape and Sexual Assault Centers that provide forensic exams? How are you keeping the students aware of these agencies services?
 
1.  Margaret
 We always encourage schools to collaborate with local centers, especially if they don't have a SANE available on campus. The information about these services needs to be well-publicized, and anyone a student is likely to report to also needs to be aware of them. That means making sure all RAs, security, deans, peer advocates, counselors, etc. know about the services and refer students to them. Such centers can also be great resources for prevention programming. Communication between the centers and the school can also help a school get a sense of how many students are using the services and compare that number to their own reported numbers.
 
2.  Daniel Carter
 SOC is developing a program to work with local SAC's and provide them with information about the rights of sexual assault survivors on campus among other things. We also, as a part of our Clery Act Training program, recommend that institutions know what the local process is so that they can fully inform victims of their options.
 
 
What do you believe to be the most effective way to involve men in prevention discussions without immediately making them defensive? I realize that letting them know what they can do to help (bystander intervention, etc.) is a good start, but how do I avoid encouraging paternalism?
 
1.  Margaret
 Good question. Avoiding paternalism is a real concern. Having bystander intervention taught by male/female teams, where the woman is an equal partner with her co-facilitator and where the participants are made aware that women are also being taught intervention skills can help combat that problem. Mixed gender groups where female participants have a chance to talk about how paternalism makes them feel might be another good idea. As always, the focus should be on perpetrator and bystander behavior, not on that of potential victims.
 
 
I am currently in a Masters program for social work, and I have several classmates who have shown a great interest in sexual violence on college campuses. What are some of the current statistics related to this issue?
 
1.  Bonnie Fisher
 Here are some that may be helpful:2002Fisher, Bonnie S., Francis T. Cullen, and Michael G. Turner. Being Pursued: A National-level Study of Stalking Among College Women. Criminology and Public Policy. 1(2): 257 308.2008Daigle, Leah E., Bonnie S. Fisher, and Francis T. Cullen. The Violent and Sexual Victimization of College Women: Is Repeat Victimization a Problem? Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 23(9), 1296-1313.2007Fisher, Bonnie S., Leah Daigle, Francis T. Cullen, and Shannon Santana. Assessing the Efficacy of the Protective Action-Completion Nexus for Sexual Victimization. Violence and Victims. (22)1: 18 42.2007Fisher, Bonnie S. and John J. Sloan, III (editors). Campus Crime: Legal, Social and Policy Perspectives, Second Edition. Charles C. Thomas Publisher, Springfield, Illinois.
 
2.  Daniel Carter
 I would recommend the Sexual Victimization of College Women study released by the U.S. Dept. of Justice at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/svcw.pdf
 
3.  Margaret
 You can find links to several studies and statistical resources on our blog at www.safercampus.org/blog Roughly 20-25 of women are estimated to experience completed or attempted rape during their college years, according to Fisher et al's 2000 study.
 
 
What work is being done to create a national momentum to enact Robbie's Law in all 50 states? This law would solve many of the problems victims face when dealing with campus police right after a rape occurs.
 
1.  Daniel Carter
 Robbie's Law, named for a student who died on campus and whose death wasn't fully investigated, requires campus and local police to jointly investigate deaths and rape reports. Local police take lead on deaths and campus police take the lead on rapes. In SOC's view this is a good way to make sure that all appropriate resources are brought to bear in both types of cases. It is now law in Tennessee and South Carolina. Virginia has twice rejected it.
 
 
Most student victims do not have the financial resources to pursue civil litigation. What do you say to these victims who have been raped but find themselves facing a campus that ignores this crime?
 
1.  Margaret
 This is a huge problem. I often refer students to the Victim Rights Law Center (http://www.victimrights.org) for legal help. Parents, alums, students, and the media can also be effective tools for bring attention to the indifference of an administration.
 
 
At our institution, we are trying to sort out the overlap between sexual harassment and sexual assault, particularly as it relates to mandated reporting. Title IX involves a judicial capacity whereas Clery serves as a statistic and timely warning requirement. Help is needed in the creation of policies and practices that clearly reflect both the overlap of the crimes and the distinct reporting requirements. Going one step further, what are the best practices in balancing mandated reporting (particularly under Title IX) AND also giving student victims the right to decide to "report" and initiate an official complaint?
 
1.  Amy Howton
 Thanks, Daniel. Could you clarify how a sexual harassment report could be made confidentially (under Title IX)?
 
2.  Daniel Carter
 Under Title IX sexual assault is viewed as an extreme form of hostile environment harassment which must be responded to promptly and effectively. The Clery Act also provides for certain guidelines, not just reporting, that must be met in sexual assault cases.Title IX requires that there be at least one Title IX coordinator at an institution. There may be more than one. So long as this official is empowered to initiate at least a minimal investigation they may be able to keep a report confidential barring exceptional circumstances. Title IX guidelines generally respect a victim's wishes not to pursue something further and don't require that multiple officials be involved.The Clery Act also allows institutions to offer a confidential reporting program, so long as it isn't precluded by state law. So long as there is a method to capture the statistic and decide if a timely warning is necessary there isn't a requirement that a report be shared with other officials.
 
 
Please discuss your thoughts about requiring college campus personnel to report allegations of sexual assault on campus to local law enforcement.
 
1.  Lynne Rybicki
 Just my opinion - The decision to report on a college campus is compounded by having to still go to classes, live in close proximity and see the offender on a daily basis. If it is reported and investigated you question what the outcome will be and if it is not you tolerate the re-victimization. Forced reporting would be even more harmful.
 
2.  Margaret
 I agree with Daniel that this is not a good idea.
 
3.  Daniel Carter
 Requiring campus personnel to report allegations of sexual assault to either the campus or local police against the wishes of the victim is a very bad idea. This will disempower victims and have a chilling effect on their willingness to come forward if they know they will be forced to be involved in a police investigation. Instead we recommend that institutions offer to fully support a victim in making their choices, including reporting to law enforcement. The Clery Act requires colleges to assist victims in going to the police if they want to but what we recommend goes beyond that. We recommend support throughout the entire process.
 
 
How can college administrators be made to focus on student safety when it comes to balancing permitted alcohol use on campus and the funding received from endowments and other outside areas? The subject of “hazing” has become a taboo with severe consequences but sexual violence has a disproportionate level of acceptance and tolerance.
 
1.  Lynne Rybicki
 With funding sources being everything from Federal to Philanthropic, I believe schools under report SA to protect their income. Does the Clery Act require schools to report assaults that occur in housing that is over flow from campus dorms but recommended by the university? Additionally, victims tend to report at home and are treated at local facilities without university knowledge.
 
2.  Margaret
 That level of acceptance and tolerance is tied of course to long-held ideas about the roles of men and women and acceptable behavior for both. Tackling the problem requires difficult discussions and head-on confrontation of the multiple oppressions that are related to sexual violence. It's no wonder it's hard to accomplish! But it can be done. As a community, a school needs to focus on recognizing perpetrator behavior, understanding where it comes from, confront it, and create strategies to counteract it. Can you clarify your question about outside funding?
 
 
Do you think the Amethyst Initiative (increased underage drinking) will increase sexual assults on campuses?
 
1.  Daniel Carter
 Reducing the drinking age would increase access to alcohol in campus communities. Because alcohol is often involved as a factor, not a cause, in sexual assaults I do believe that there would be an increase in sexual assault if more alcohol were available and consumed in campus communities.
 
 
Thank you for facilitating this web session. As a clinical educator within a healthcare system that also has a college on one of our campuses, can you offer current resources that we can investigate as best practice for program development?
 
1.  Margaret
 Recently, two analyses of the effectiveness of prevention programs were published. Morrison, et al 2004 (An Evidence-based review of sexual assault prevention intervention programs) and Anderson and Whiston 2005 (Sexual assault education programs: a meta-analytic examination of their effectiveness.) Both are very helpful.
 
 
Our state doesn't protect victim-advocate confidentiality. How do we convince univ. administrators that survivors and the campus as a whole are not served by forcing advocates to reveal survivor names to administrators?
 
1.  Daniel Carter
 It is also important to tell them that neither the Clery Act or Title IX directly require that you disclose names to them. Often they believe that these laws do but so long as structures are in place to meet their requirements this doesn't necessarily have to be the case. The Clery Act reporting guidelines directly provide that an institution may establish a confidential reporting system - where one authority does know the name but does not share it with others.
 
2.  Margaret
 If administrators are forcing advocates to reveal survivor names, they clearly need to learn more about the effect sexual assault has on victims and the importance of regaining control and feeling safe. Such a set-up as you describe reduces reporting (if students are aware of it) and just perpetuates the problem. Supporting victims, providing services and options, will do more to encourage reporting than violating their trust.
 
 
I am a Judicial Officer at an institution of Higher Learning. What role should the office of Judicial Affairs play in responding to Sexual Violence on a University campus?
 
1.  Marcia L.
 It is also essential that someone work with them who won't eventually have to sit in neutral judgement on their case. What procedures can be put in place to ensure that the intake judicial officer cannot act as judge by deciding to abandon a case after deciding he has insufficient evidence to reach a guilty decision? E.g., if heshe can't win, he doesn't bring the case to a review panel and the victim never gets a chance to testify or rebut the statements of the accused.
 
2.  Daniel Carter
 Under federal Title IX guidelines institutions must have a prompt and effective response to complaints of sexual harassment and assault. While the law doesn't specify which office takes on these responsibilities it often does fall on the student judicial affairs office. When it does it is critical that personnel be trained in working with sexual assault victims and understanding their state of mind. It is also essential that someone work with them who won't eventually have to sit in neutral judgement on their case.
 
 
What are some examples of bystander training? Are there promising programs?
 
1.  Margaret
 In bystander intervention training, participants learn how to recognize sexually violent behavior or situations, build skills for intervening, make a commitment to intervene, and serve as role models for others. Prevention Innovations can be reached at preventioninnovations@unh.edu for more information.
 
2.  Holly Dutton
 I am quite new to the sexual assault field. Can you share more details about bystander training and how to access the materials?
 
3.  Margaret
 The Prevention innovations program led by Victoria Banyard at the University of New Hampshire has very promising program evaluations to back it up.
 
 
What type of training, classes or special certificates must someone posses to help those victims on campus who have become victims of rape or assault?
 
1.  Margaret
 Your local rape crisis center may be able to help you with this, and may even be able to provide the training. Victim advocates for a campus program should have at least the same kind and amount of training that a crisis center uses for its hotline or victim advocate volunteers. This might involve learning about the dynamics of sexual violence, the range of effects and emotions of victims, the options a victim has, what a victim will experience at the hospital or during a disciplinary hearing, etc. Self-care is also important, as it can be very difficult to be a victim advocate.
 
 
Are there any sample policies for responding to sexual assault on campus that are available to view online?
 
1.  Margaret
 Our organization has created a database of sexual assault policies from across the country. It is available to search at www.safercampus.org/policies.php . Some of the policies are better than others, and we've commented on each one's positive and negative aspects. We feel strongly that each community needs to create its own policy with student input, but there are definitely some good examples in the database. You don't need to re-invent the wheel entirely, certainly.
 
 
What are some reasons for victims of sexual violence to not report the crime?
 
1.  Lynne Rybicki
 On top of all of those other good reasons not to report, some states require victims to pay for their own evidence collection kits. This is probably the only major crime on the FBI major crime list that requires some victims must pay to have evidence collected in order to prosecute an offender.
 
2.  Daniel Carter
 There are many reasons that victims elect not to report to the police. Often these are deeply personal and include not wanting others, especially family, to learn about it. Sometimes it is a sense that the system will fail them, which all too often is true. The dense social environment in a campus community often contributes to these challenges.
 
3.  Margaret
 Fear of retaliation. Fear of being sanctioned for violating another school policy (like an alcohol policy). Self-blame, shame, guilt. Pressure from friends not to report the perpetrator. Not recognizing that what they experienced was a crime or violation of school policy. A belief that the perpetrator will not be punished. A wish to avoid a traumatic reporting andor disciplinary process.
 
 
Mr. Carter had a generally favorable opinion of "Robbie's Law". However, you also object to mandatory reporting to local law enforcement of allegations of rape and sexual assault on campus. Would you be a proponent of state laws that require joint investigations but only when the victim has agreed to reporting the sexual assault, rape to law enforcement?
 
1.  Daniel Carter
 Yes it is SOC's position that there should only be a joint investigation once a victim has actually reported to law enforcement. The Tennessee law works this way but the South Carolina law does not, at least not yet.
 
 
I am currently working on an initiative to increase reports of sexual and relationship violence on campus. We know students talk to their friends, so we hope to create a peer resource group that would be able to take anonymous reports,refer to supportive services on campus and the community and offer students a chance to reflect if they are blurry about if they were victimized (information and refferal, not advocacy). Do you know if programs like this are successful?
 
1.  Margaret
 I haven't seen any program evaluations of such programs, but it sounds promising. I encourage you to reach out to other schools with similar programs and see what their experience has been. Is this something students have asked for? That can be a good sign they would use it.
 
 
What are your thoughts about anonymous reporting? Would you recommend a form that is available online and submitted to public safety or through a more confidential place like health services?
 
1.  Amy
 Southwest Minnesota State University has an on-campus office for a crime victim service agency named New Horizons Crisis Center. NHCC does a lot of prevention education, advocacy, professional trainings as well as participating in national events such as RAINN DAY besides offering basic crime victime services. Sexual assault victims can report anonymously but are given information about NHCC as well as calling an advocate so that the victim will still receive support services.
 
2.  Margaret
 I would recommend both, as well as other options. Having multiple choices allows students to choose the option that is most comfortable for them. The important thing is for it to be clear to students the level of confidentiality each option offers, and what happens after they make a report.
 
 
It has been my experience that schools are often very protective of the rights of the accused but seem to ignore the rights of the victim. What suggestions do you have for school administrators and advocates for upholding victim's rights throughout the reporting process?
 
1.  Margaret
 Yes, we've seen this too. Due process and fairness are important for both the victim and the accused. Making sure they both have the same rights to being apprised of the progress of the process, to having advisors present, etc. is important. Disciplinary procedures should be standardized and consistently enforced. They must be transparent and include oversight measures. It is also important to make it clear that retaliation against a victim on the part of the accused or the accused's friends is a serious violation of school policy.
 
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