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Rape on Campus

If You Are Raped on Campus

Colleges and universities are required by federal law to have a sexual assault policy to deal with rape and sexual assault on campus and are required by law to make this information widely and easily available to the campus community . This policy includes a disciplinary procedure against the perpetrator that is separate from what happens if you report the crime to the police.

These policies vary enormously and are usually designed by the school to protect itself legally from potential lawsuits by the perpetrator. Schools can be sued by the victims as well. Campus activists and the threat of civil rights suits have forced some schools to put fair and supportive policies in place. If a disciplinary board believes the victim's testimony, the rapist can face expulsion. If you have been raped you have to decide whether to report the rape to the campus police and begin the process through your school and whether or not you are also going to report the rape to the police in the city or county. These are not mutually exclusive processes.

Contact your local rape crisis center, victim advocacy legal organization or hotline and find out what they know about your school's procedures. Does your college have a sexual assault center? Is it run by the campus police, mental health services or by students? Can you receive confidential information or support there? Keep in mind that although your school might have sexual assault counselors, if they are in an administrative position rather than a service provider for sexual assault survivors, they will likely have the interests of the school at the top of their priority list, rather than making sure you get justice.

Most of the rape that happens on campuses occurs between people who know one another. This means that you will probably see the rapist in classes, the student center or even in the dormitories. Consider the impact of this on your ability to learn and thrive in college and remember you are legally entitled to get a stay away order from your school, allowing you to change dormitories and preventing him from coming near you. Title IX of the Civil Rights Act gives us the right to equal access to educational opportunities. The Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Education is responsible for insuring that schools have a fair and equitable policy on sexual assault prevention and response. You can file a complaint against your school with them. The main office is in Washington, but there are branches throughout the country.

In addition to internal administrative remedies availble within the school, a victim may exercise her legal rights against the perpetrator and/or the school under one or more of the following options, explained in more detail below:

restraining order in civil court
injunction in civil court
criminal prosecution
"no contact" or "stay away" order in criminal court
civil lawsuit for negligence
civil lawsuit for intentional assault and/or battery, emotional distress, etc.
civil rights lawsuit (under sec. 1983, Title IX and/or state constitutional or statutory law)
state commission against discrimination
federal Department of Education's Office for Civil rights
federal Deaprtment of Education's Office on Financial Aid (enforces the "Clery Act" which requires public reporting of campus crimes)

Links to National Organizations

Security On Campus, Inc. is a national non-profit providing victim advocacy to campus victims of sexual assault and other crimes. They provide peer educators, many of whom are survivors themselves.

Through the V-Day College Campaign, campus anti-rape activists have brought over 450 amateur performances of "The Vagina Monologues" to their schools to benefit grassroots groups working to end violence against women.

Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER) supports campus activists working to rewrite their schools' sexual assault policies. They are committed to establishing sexual assault policies that are fair and accessible.

Campus Outreach Services
offers guest speaker suggestions and free online research materials. They lobby for sexual assault related legislation and are dedicated to ending violence against women.

Article: Georgetown Ruling Breaks Silence on Campus Rape

Links to Campus Organizations

The Voices Against Violence Project addresses the issues of relationship violence, stalking and sexual violence at the University of Texas.

Men can stop rape
White Ribbon Campain




"In about 85 percent of
cases, sexual assaults
occur between people
who know each other."

Source: Diana Russell,
The Prevalence and Incidence of
Forcible Rape and Attempted Rape of Females, Victimology: An International Journal 7, 1-4 (1983).