PRESS RELEASE

Contact: Chris Perry

Telephone: 301-801-0608

Email: cperry@saveservices.org

In Support of Sexual Assault Survivors, SAVE Calls on College Administrators to Expeditiously Implement New Federal Policy

WASHINGTON / September 25, 2017 – In order to support identified sexual assault victims, SAVE is urging campus administrators to implement the new policy issued by the Department of Education as soon as practicable. The document, “Q and A on Campus Sexual Misconduct,” was released this past Friday (1).

The federal guidance is designed to make the process more fair for both complainant and the accused, improve the reliability of disciplinary determinations, and bring an end to what many persons have termed the campus “kangaroo courts.”

Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE) has identified five ways in which the new guidance will benefit identified victims:

  1. Increased Reporting: Flawed campus procedures discourage the reporting of incidents. In Michigan, student Jessica Howell publicly denounced the campus adjudication process as treating the “violation of our bodies and minds…as no more than a late library book.”  (2)
  2. Enhanced Credibility of Complainants: The federal guidance reminds schools of the definition of hostile environment as sexual misconduct that is “severe, persistent, or pervasive.” This will encourage schools to curb overly broad definitions of sexual misconduct such as “unwanted flirting,” use of unwanted gender pronouns, insensitive jokes, and the like. This will reduce the perception of sexual misconduct complaints as frivolous, thus enhancing the credibility of complainants.
  3. Better Investigations: The new guidance removes the previous prohibition on schools from relying on investigations by law-enforcement authorities, and eliminates the 60-day limit for resolution of the complaint. These changes will enhance the thoroughness and accuracy of investigations.
  4. Mediation Option: The new guidance allows parties that are agreeable to this approach to engage in “informal resolution, including mediation, to assist the parties in reaching a voluntary resolution.” Mediation allows the parties to clarify their intentions, express feelings, and convey remorse.
  5. Fewer Appeals, Lawsuits, and Repeat Hearings: The main objective of the new policy is to enhance the accuracy and reliability of campus adjudications. When the accused student believes the determination is wrong, he is likely to file an appeal or lawsuit, often resulting in a decision to repeat the hearing. This process can consume months or years.

In addition, SAVE encourages the referral of felony-level cases to local law enforcement, whenever feasible. The criminal justice system provides 28 protections to identified victims that are not available on campuses (3).

A recent Rasmussen poll found that 73% of Americans agree with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s statement that “Every survivor of sexual misconduct must be taken seriously. Every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined.” (4)

Citations:

  1. https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/qa-title-ix-201709.pdf
  2. http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2015/06/06/sexual-assault-victimopts/28627323/
  3. http://www.saveservices.org/vs/protections/
  4. http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/social_issues/most_americans_agree_with_devos_on_sexual_misconduct_on_campuses#sthash.tqCjJV6m.gbpl

SAVE (Stop Abusive and Violent Environments) is working for practical and effective solutions to campus sexual assault: www.saveservices.org