In recent years, colleges and universities have become deeply and publicly engaged with preventing and responding to campus sexual misconduct. Early institutional efforts focused on prevention programming, investigations, and adjudications, but reporting has emerged as a critical gap for many colleges and universities. Pressure is mounting for institutions to update reporting options and processes, and to share and use reporting data.
This study outlines practices and strategies to improve campus reporting in five key areas. Download the complete publication or explore the table of contents to learn more about each area, and download the related toolkit.
Sexual assault might be a problem...but not on my campus
Even with the increased attention and research about campus sexual misconduct, some people are still skeptical about the issue itself. A 2015 survey of college and university presidents found that only one-third believe sexual assault is a problem on college campuses, and only 6% believe it is a problem on their own campus. Despite increased efforts to address sexual misconduct, there is a clear disconnect between senior leadership and public perceptions about the issue. This significant disconnect contributes to the complexity of addressing campus sexual misconduct.
Why focus on reporting now?
Despite skepticism at the top and doubts about how higher education is handling the issue, institutions have been doing a lot—particularly lately—to address sexual misconduct. During our research interviews, we heard that most institutions are feeling increasingly good about their sexual misconduct policies and prevention initiatives. However, reporting was consistently identified by student affairs administrators as a top priority due to the serious consequences of getting it wrong.
Investigations from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and financial penalties associated with mishandling campus sexual misconduct are rising. There are also enrollment consequences to consider. Colleges and universities report being bombarded with questions from prospective students and their families about their climate and resources. Moreover, news about an institution’s perceived mishandling of the issue can negatively impact admissions.
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Sexual Misconduct Reporting: Critical Areas for Colleges and Universities to Address