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Sexual Assault on College Campuses: A look one year later

At this time of year many parents are sending children off to college. Last year, The Levine Law Firm blog discussed the troubling issues of binge drinking and sexual assaults on college campuses, and the relationship between the two. In this blog, your Denver personal injury attorney takes a look at the intervening time period and what progress, if any, has been made with respect to these concerns.

Students who became victims of sexual assault on college campuses overwhelmingly complained that: (1) the alleged attacker is allowed to remain in classes and in the same living space with the victim; (2) the review process is very slow; and (3) the resulting punishment, if there is one, is extremely minor and not an effective deterrent. Widespread accusations and lawsuits alleging these problems prompted investigations of dozens of colleges and graduate schools by the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights for possible violations of Title IX. (Title XI prohibits gender discrimination in education.) 

Your Denver personal injury attorney finds that the investigations and public scrutiny pursuant to them have resulted in changes in some campus’ cultures. Bystander education programs encourage friends and even just observers to intervene between a female student who has been drinking and a male student who appears to be interested in her sexually. Alcohol blurs the line between true consent and taking advantage of someone, so more students are following a “clear consent” rule where they do not “hook up” with someone if one of them has been drinking. Some schools have online courses and programs during orientations that educate students about healthy relationships and how alcohol affects consent to sexual encounters. A hesitancy to engage someone who may regret their actions when sober, and an insistence on true consent when and if two students do “hook up” are both positive steps toward eliminating sexual assaults on college campuses.

Another indication of positive change is students’ awareness of how their actions can be perceived. Male students report being worried about disciplinary proceedings for actions they did not intend to be predatory; they have plans for graduate school and careers that they do not want to be tarnished by an assault charge due to a misperception or misjudgment on their part. Your Denver personal injury attorney emphasizes that the “no alcohol” rule and need for clear consent is paramount. When a girl is flirting with them and appears to be interested in them, they want to be sure their advances are welcome. Sometimes, that means waiting until both are sober.

Of course, college students are still drinking and still hooking up, and sexual assaults are still taking place on college campuses–not all of which are associated with drinking and partying. But at least the current investigations and public outcry have created a new awareness among students, and a new willingness to speak out against sexual harassment and assault. If you or a loved one have been the victim of sexual assault, contact Jordan Levine at The Levine Law Firm.

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