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Charges of rape and other sexual assaults on college and university campuses — and how school officials investigate and adjudicate them — are receiving unprecedented attention. Young women who believe their schools mishandled their cases have formed advocacy groups, and they and others have filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Education, which is investigating 86 colleges and universities. The White House created a special task force on campus sexual assault, and Congress passed legislation last year mandating training for school personnel and ongoing education for students on the issue. But as momentum builds to hold schools more accountable, civil libertarians say the pressure is leading schools to violate the rights of accused students. Meanwhile, the standard of evidence schools use when deciding sexual assault cases is under debate, along with whether schools' adoption of so-called affirmative consent for sexual encounters is too intrusive, and whether schools should turn over all investigations to police.
|1970s–1980s||Congress passes landmark sex discrimination law; anti-rape activists compel change on campuses.|
|1990s||Congress passes laws to make campuses safer and to protect women from sexual violence.|
|2000s||Surveys continue to find high rates of sexual violence on campus; Congress strengthens Clery Act.|
Should colleges hand off all sexual assault cases to the police?
Professor of History, Brooklyn College and City University of New York Graduate Center; Author, Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case.
Associate Vice President of Equity, Inclusion and Violence Prevention, NASPA Student Affairs Administrators; Author, ‘Decriminalizing’ Campus Institutional Responses to Peer Sexual Violence.