What College Women Should Know

A 2015 Washington Post – Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 1 of every 5 women in college — 20% — experience either rape or attempted rape while in school.


What can a young woman — or her parents — do to ensure that the college chosen takes this problem seriously, and is poised to assist and prevent?


Here are 5 things they can look for (from Ms. Magazine):

  1. Read the schools annual crime reports.  By federal law, any college or university which receives federal funds must collect statistics on certain crime,s including sexual assault.  These reports must be published, and many schools do so on the school’s website.  YOu can also use the Dept of Education’s Campus Safety and Security Data Analysis Cutting Tool.  (Note: fewer reported incidents do not necessarily mean fewer actual incidents; a lot depends on the climate of the school, and how open they are to such reports.  But it’s a place to start.
  2. Read the campus sexual misconduct policy.  Title IX requires that schools mush both adopt and publish grievance procedures, and thoroughly explain how a student may make a complaint.  There also must be investigation and resolution procedures, and protocols for disciplinary actions against the perpetrators.   It’s important to know how your school defines “consent”.  It’s also useful to see what the minimum penalties are for sexual assault vs other offenses, and whether the school has actual met those criterion.  By federal law, survivors of sexual assault are required to have no-contact orders and housing available to protect them after an assault, and it’s important to know if your school complies.
  3. Find out what campus health and emergency services are available to sexual assault survivors.  Ideally, there should be a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) on staff, or at the least an agreement with a local hospital to provide one.  Will the school provide STI and HIV testing, or offer pregnancy test or emergency contraceptives?  Is there access to a facility which can search for all the known substances used in drug-facility rape?  Ideally, all these services should be free of charge for survivors.
  4. Meet your school’s Title IX Coordinator.  Every school must have one, and if the coordinator does not have time to meet with you, it may be a sign that they are over-extended and unable to affectively do their job.  If you do meet with the coordinator, ask if the school is under investigation, or has entered into a voluntary compliance agreement.
  5. Look for student activist groups.  Peers can be an important resource.  Many schools are safer because of student-led prevention and bystander trainings, task forces, social justice clubs, gender and sexual diversity programs, or a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) with student involvement.