WASHINGTON (AP) - A
survey of colleges and universities finds a lack of coordination between
many campuses and local law enforcement in handling sexual assaults, and
that many schools have gone years without investigating such cases.
About 40 percent of
colleges and universities reported not having conducted a sexual assault
investigation in the past five years, including 6 percent of the nation’s
largest public institutions. More than 20 percent of large, private schools
conducted fewer investigations than the number of incidents reported to the
McCaskill, D-Mo., a former prosecutor whose office conducted the survey,
said parents and taxpayers should be concerned about the number of
“On first blush, a
parent would think that’s good, they don’t have a problem with sexual
assault on their campus, but it’s not good, it’s very bad because that means
they are either in denial or incompetent,” McCaskill said.
requires every institution that knows about a sexual violence incident to
investigate, she noted. She said schools should investigate even if the end
result is that the victim isn’t participating and there’s no corroboration.
Under some estimates, 1 in 5 college females is assaulted.
The prevalence of
sexual assaults on college campuses took on new focus in the wake of the
Jerry Sandusky case at Penn State and after a high-profile battle on Capitol
Hill about military sexual assault led college campus assault victims to
demand the same attention.
Education Department and a White House task force on campus sexual assault
have taken a series of steps to draw attention to the treatment of sexual
assault victims and force campuses to address the problem.
McCaskill is part of a group of senators exploring ways to address the issue
legislatively. She said the survey was needed so they had a better grasp of
how campuses handle such cases.
McCaskill said the
senators are looking at ways to empower victims, simplify laws and rules
colleges and universities follow and find ways that campuses and local
authorities can better coordinate. She chairs a subcommittee with
jurisdiction over Title IX, which prohibits gender discrimination at
institutions receiving federal funds.
Ada Meloy, general
counsel of the American Council on Education, which represents college
presidents, said if victims want to maintain confidentiality, it is
“extremely difficult to conduct an investigation.” She said many college
officials want to work more with local authorities, but local authorities
are hesitant to take such cases because they are difficult to successfully
Meloy said her
organization is disappointed by the report and says it fails to describe how
hard colleges and universities are working to address the problem under a
complex and confusing set of federal guidelines and laws.
About 40 percent of
schools said they have sworn law enforcement officers on campus, while many
others have private security and about half rely on local authorities.
Thirty percent said campus police and security guards aren’t required by law
or institutional policy to be trained to respond to reports of sexual
Only about a
quarter of the schools said they have written protocols between campus and
local authorities for handling such cases.
Most schools said
they use a “team” response to reports of sexual assault, but only about a
quarter incorporate the local prosecutor’s office on the team.
Among the other
-More than 20
percent of respondents provide no sexual assault training for all faculty
-More than 30
percent of schools do not provide sexual assault training for students.
-About half of the
participating colleges and universities do not provide a hotline for sexual
-About 16 percent
of respondents conduct “climate surveys” to gauge the number of such cases
that are going unreported.
-About 10 percent
said they don’t have a Title IX coordinator.
continually violate the law and fail to follow best practices in how they
handle sexual violence,” McCaskill said.
The findings come
from a survey of 440 four-year colleges and universities of different sizes
with 236 colleges and universities responding. Participating schools weren’t