- An increased White House focus on preventing campus sexual assaults has brought national attention to the issue, and dramatic response from institutions working to avoid public scrutiny for potential mishandling of cases.
- According to The Washington Post, the U.S. Department of Education is currently reviewing more than 250 cases of alleged sexual assault at 198 colleges and universities nationwide.
- Some critics of the department’s reach into campus-based sexual assault say that the focus may lead to some schools, which have lower thresholds of responsibility than a criminal court, to act against a charged student inappropriately in order to avoid public censure.
Many colleges and universities view the federal engagement and guidance on sexual assault reporting and management as a double-edged sword. With more awareness and reporting modules, numbers of reported assaults increase, but students and prospective students are made to feel unsafe on campus. If numbers decrease, there is a perception that administration may be stifling cases to avoid the same.
In the midst of these two outcomes, there is still a standard of consent and responsibility all students must meet to protect themselves from assault or accusation of the same. It’s up to institutions to emphasize these points with freshman orientation courses and to athletes, members of fraternities and sororities and student government representatives to offer transparency about the complexity of every assault case, the standard of preponderance of evidence and how people and institutions suffer even with just one incident or charge.