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Sexual Assault on Campus: A Frustrating Search for Justice

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The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) recently completed a nine-month investigation into how colleges and universities respond to sexual assaults. RAINN provided information and connected CPI reporters to RAINN Speakers Bureau members and advocates across the country. Extensive interviews, as well as surveys of on- and off-campus crisis centers and clinics, revealed a high rate of rape, victims forced into closed hearings, and confusing laws.

The series highlights the “culture of secrecy” that victims of sexual assault face on college campuses. It also illustrates how many colleges’ and universities’ policies fail to protect victims and can discourage other victims from even reporting the crime.

The effects of these policies are devastating for victims and frequently allow perpetrators to go unpunished. Moreover, the CPI investigation demonstrated that, due to loopholes in the federal mandatory campus crime reporting law known as the Clery Act, many schools, accidentally or intentionally, inaccurately report the number of sexual assaults on their campuses.

The investigation’s key findings, as well as three articles that incorporate numerous victims’ accounts of their experiences, are available on CPI’s website. Further articles in this series will be released in early 2010.

CPI’s investigation — as well as the fact that college students are more likely to be sexually assaulted than any other age group — shows the importance of RAINN Day, RAINN’s annual campaign to stop sexual assault on college campuses. In 2009, RAINN Day educated over 1,000,000 students in all 50 states, DC, Puerto Rico, and Canada about preventing and recovering from sexual assault.

Students and volunteers raised awareness through educational events, volunteer drives, speakers, petitions and posters, and passed out RAINN Day cards and volunteer handouts. Downloadable materials, including info on how students can get help through the National Sexual Assault Hotlines (800.656.HOPE, and online at rainn.org), are available on RAINN’s website.

Help RAINN educate students and prevent sexual violence on your campus.


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