United States: School Officials Question Campus Sexual Assault Guidelines
Monday, August 8, 2011 9:35 AM

In April of this year, United States Vice President Biden along with the US Department of Education released an updated set of guidelines that colleges and universities must adhere to in order to comply with Title IX. Title IX, passed in 1972, requires gender equity in educational programs that receive federal funding. Although much of the discussion and debate surrounding Title IX relates to athletics, ten priority areas are addressed by the law. These include: access to higher education, athletics, career education, education for pregnant and parent students, employment, learning environment, math and sciences, sexual harassment, standardized testing, and technology.

These guidelines pushed schools to do more to investigate sexual assault allegations and make it easier for victims to report assaults, as only 5% of women report sexual assaults to school officials now.


Some school officials argue that the portion of the guidelines that state that “If the complainant requests confidentiality or asks that the complaint not be pursued, the school should take all reasonable steps to investigate and respond to the complaint consistent with the request for confidentiality or request not to pursue an investigation” suggest that schools have the option to do nothing if the victim “chooses” not to pursue an investigation, but this interpretation is not consistent with the role of law enforcement with respect to the handling of any other violent crime. There are concerns that victims might be influenced by the perpetrators or the schools themselves to not pursue an investigation.


Compiled from: Murphy, Wendy. “Investigate Campus Sexual-Assault? It’s a Must-Do," Women’s E-News, (8 August 2011); History of Title IX, National Women’s Law Center (10 August 2011).