As the public becomes more aware of the prevalence of sexual assaults on campuses, questions start to arise on how campus crimes are reported.
The biggest one being: Why don’t victims just go to the police?
For most campus sexual assault cases, the best option for the victim would be to report to the higher education institution’s law enforcement agency.
Higher education institutions must investigate every sexual assault crime reported on campus.
They can also expel or suspend the alleged assailant to avoid a “hostile environment,” and they are mandated to provide resources to help victims.
There is a network in place on campuses to help victims to report the crime.
So why does it seem like that network doesn’t work?
In the quest for a safe campus, the government has created a cobbled-together and overwhelming crime reporting process that opens itself up for confusion, misunderstanding and noncompliance.
Under Title IX, the higher education gender-equality law, sexual violence — assault, harassment or stalking — is considered an act of discrimination.
Higher education institutions are obligated to investigate all Title IX infractions.
The Clery Act, also known as the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, holds higher education institutions responsible to report major crimes, like most Title IX infractions.
Victims of sexual assault often don’t formally report the crime for many reasons, like fear of being not taken seriously or because they don’t have proof.
So sometimes they’d rather tell a campus official they trust, which can cause some problems.
The Cleary act says the crime reports need to come from a Campus Security authority, which does not have to be a police officer but can be a dean, an athletic director, a resident adviser or others.
The campus security authorities have to report the crime, regardless of whether they believe the report, to campus police.
But with the daunting task of understanding Title IX and the Cleary Act, the campus security authority might not understand what’s required or, like at Baylor, the official might discourage reporting the crime.
There should be a clearer path.