Challenge of College Rape Persists, Despite Directive

Tim Goral's picture

One in five women experience rape or sexual assault during their college years, according to research from the Justice Department.

The prevalence of rape and sexual assault led the Obama administration in 2011 to introduce new guidelines for schools under Title IX, a law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in education. "Sexual harassment of students, which includes sexual violence, is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX," says a letter from the Education Department's Office of Civil Rights.

In the two years since the directive was issued, have colleges improved their approach to sexual assault? The question was thrown into doubt after the University of North Carolina threatened to expel Landen Gambill, a student who spoke publicly about the university's handling of her rape. Gambill, along with two other students and a former administrator, filed a complaint against the school with the Office of Civil Rights.

Wendy Murphy, an adjunct law professor and former prosecutor, suggested that parents would be alarmed if they understood how pervasive campus rapes are. And colleges, she said, have little incentive to enlighten them.

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