Database Spotlights Gaps in Campus Rape Policies

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Justice for survivors of campus rape is often weakened by administrators leery of attracting negative press. The Campus Accountability Project confronts this with an online, free, searchable database compiled by students that shows how well a school responds.

(WOMENSENEWS) -- Is there at least one full-time person working on campus sex-assault? May rape survivors report their attack confidentially and-or anonymously? Does the school's policy cover the sex assault of a man? Is emergency contraception available in the school health center?

These are the questions that students across the country are answering through the Campus Accountability Project, an open-access database designed for students, applicants and parents.

The database ranges in alphabetical order, beginning with the University of Alabama and ending with Yale University. It finds plenty of schools failing to present friendly survivor policies.

Of about 250 schools now in the database, 19 don't cover the cost of counseling after a sexual assault or rape, including such well-known universities as University of California-Berkeley and Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

Only 30 offer victims amnesty from punishment for offenses surrounding the assault, such as violating school policy against underage drinking. The fear of being punished for such offenses is considered a major deterrent to bringing a report.

A victim's sexual history and attire are allowable points of discussion in 108 schools in the database, including such highly ranked institutions as Williams College in Massachusetts; UNC-Chapel Hill; and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

The database is produced by a partnership between Students Active for Ending Rape, or SAFER, based in New York City, and V-Day, the global anti-violence franchise that on Feb. 14 announced its largest campaign to date entitled One Billion Rising, which invites one billion women and their loved ones -- representative of the one billion female survivors of sexual violence worldwide -- to gather and dance in their communities on V-Day's 15th anniversary, February 14, 2013.

The database is housed on SAFER's website, and SAFER staff members vet each submission for accuracy. V-Day provides financial assistance and organizational support.

SAFER's data-gathering project provides a way to screen schools for a survivor-friendly campus culture. By showing stronger and weaker policies, it also provides a tool for student activists.

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