Stanford is latest to confront sexual assault review scandal
- The New York Times reports on campus criticism of Stanford University's sexual assault adjudication system, which twice found a football player responsible for a sexual assault, but has not led to expulsion for the charged player.
- The school this year changed its judicial review process, switching from a five-person panel required to give a 4-1 finding of responsibility, to a unanimous decision from a three-person panel. The charged player twice was found not responsible by 3-2 decisions, and officials say the new standards may dissuade students from pursuing campus judicial resolutions for sexual assault cases.
- The unnamed accuser in the case has left school as a result of the findings, while the player remains enrolled and active on the football team. The school is one of just two institutions in the country with standards of unanimity for assault cases.
While The New York Times cites increased concern and criticism for colleges over the handling of sexual assault cases, the increase in media coverage and social response to these cases is being compounded by legislative opposition to campus assault policies. The growing culture of perceived victim-blaming or downplaying of sexual assault cases could impact enrollment at some universities, and shape public perceptions of philanthropy or support.
College leaders must commit to transparency and exposure of campus assault policies and adjudication procedures, and keep students aware of the legislative movement around these issues. There is no way to eliminate sexual assault, but campuses can eliminate notions of uncaring or unresponsive administration to the issue.