This investigation into sexual assault on college campuses marks the Center’s first major collaborative effort with our partners in the Investigative News Network, a coalition of some two dozen mostly nonprofit news organizations dedicated to watchdog journalism. Below are descriptions of and links to the stories they have produced in partnership with our project. We’ll be updating this page as new stories are published.
Emily Lorenzen turned to college administrators for help after she was hazed into drinking too much alcohol and woke up naked in bed next to a persistent upperclassman whose advances she had spurned. She found a lack of concern and a desire to protect the university, and says the college investigation and disciplinary process victimized her again. But the experience spurred her father, then head of the board of higher education in the state of Oregon, to begin making changes in that state that could have long-ranging impact for young victims like Emily in the future.
Colleges ‘In Denial’ About Campus Sexual Assault Problem, Advocates Say
One reason the frequency of sexual assault on campuses continues to be high is that schools are in denial about the scope of the problem, say advocates and victims. In addition, universities have fragmented reporting channels, and women report assaults in various ways — they may call the police, tell a friend or faculty member, go to the hospital, or seek counseling at the sexual assault center.
Overwhelmed and Unsure, Victims Often Delay Seeking Help
The story of a frustrating search for justice through an unclear and conflicted college disciplinary system is compellingly told through the experiences of two victims. Both women say the schools’ handling of their cases compounded their trauma, and both point to insensitive handling that ranged from inappropriate questioning to being required to go through mediation sitting near the man they had accused. Discipline for the alleged perpetrators was light or nonexistent, and left both angered that students who suffer sexual assaults by other students are often left to bear the emotional, physical and financial consequences, while those responsible for their anguish walk away.
A Dangerous Mix: Drinking, Sex and College Students
A majority of sexual assaults involving college students also involve drugs or alcohol.
Advocates say this is one reason the prevalence rate of assaults continues to be high, and also partly why so few are ever successfully prosecuted.
New England Center for Investigative Reporting
Campus Sexual Assaults: Few Tough Sanctions Imposed
Just four expulsions were issued between 2003 and 2008, the most recent year available, for sexual assaults reported by ten campuses in New England funded by the DOJ to combat violence against women, an investigation by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting at Boston University has found.
Rocky Mountain Investigative News Network
<a data-cke-saved-href="http://www.inewsnetwork.org/" href="http://www.inewsnetwork.org/" target="new" "="">Privacy Laws Prevent Sex Assault Investigations
University of Colorado officials acknowledge a suspected pattern of alleged date-rape drug use at a fraternity in Boulder, but say they’re barred from telling police which one. CU is one of several colleges withholding information about sexual assaults against students, the Rocky Mountain Investigative News Network has found.
Suffering in Silence: Campus Sexual Assaults Underreported
At University of Wisconsin System campuses, estimated rapes outnumber reports by a margin of 17-1. With numbers so low, nearly all rapists go unpunished, whether by schools or the criminal justice system. The system is tough for victims and many barriers still exist, as the stories of victims Abby Panozzo, Laura Dunn and Becca detail. As a result of our reporting, on Tuesday the UW System acknowledged its annual summary of sexual assaults — a comparatively unique report required by the Legislature — should be more accessible and posted it on a new Web page.
Data Create Incomplete Picture of Sexual Assaults on Wisconsin Campuses
No one contests that campus sexual assaults are underreported. But even nailing down how many are reported at a campus is a challenge. At UW-Madison in 2008, either one, five, eight or 44 sexual assaults occurred — depending on which report you consult. Because of different standards for the reports, a murky picture about campus reporting emerges, sometimes with four different numbers for UW campuses.
How Will Recent Changes Affect Rapists and Rape Victims?
In a controversial move, the University of Wisconsin System last fall adopted revisions to the campus conduct code that some experts say could make it easier to punish rapists, while others worry that one change could intimidate victims. The burden of proof was lowered for sexual assault cases, but cases also now allow lawyers to speak on behalf of the accused in cases that could result in suspension or expulsion. To advocates, lawyers beating up the victim is a concern, but the UW System says its policies will keep that from happening.
Teaching Students to Intervene in Acquaintance Rape
“Bystander intervention” programs are popping up throughout the UW System in an effort to tailor prevention programs to the most recent research available about rapes. They amount to teaching students how to react when their friends are in sketchy situations. Given the vast underreporting that occurs, it may seem like there are countless rapists out there. In reality, a small minority of men—undetected serial rapists—perpetrate many of the crimes, and programs aim to teach students to overcome their loyalty to friends and prevent predatory behavior.