V-DAY & SAFER Campus Accountability Project
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SAFER AND V-DAY RELEASE REPORT ON CAMPUS SEXUAL ASSAULT POLICIES IN THE U.S.
80% Received Grade of C or Lower
Primary Prevention Programming Continues To Represent Critical Area for Growth
Nearly One-Third of Policies Do Not Fully Comply with Federal Law
(NEW YORK, NY) October 30, 2013 – Today, SAFER and V-Day release “Making the Grade? Findings from the Campus Accountability Project on Sexual Assault Policies.” The study analyzed nearly 300 formal and informal sexual assault policies from colleges and universities across the U.S. The report provides a snapshot of policies from a sample of four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. during a given time frame.
“For 15 years, V-Day activists globally have worked to end violence against women and girls through art and activism,” said Susan Celia Swan, Executive Director at V-Day. “Since the inception of “The Vagina Monologues,” V-Day has worked with local volunteers and college students to produce performances of the play as a means to raise awareness about sexual violence, creating an open artistic space for dialogue, shattering taboos and raising funds for local anti-violence organizations. As part of their V-Day activities, college activists look deeply at the issues of violence against women on their campuses and around the world. This collaboration with SAFER created a forum for our activists to assess their schools’ sexual assault policies. It has also created a snapshot overview of campus policy, that we hope will shed light on what’s working and what’s not so that together we can address this critical issue at a time when we are seeing more and more young women come forward.”
Promisingly, nearly all the policies (99.7%) assessed in the database indicate that institutions offer counseling services for students and over 90% of the policies assessed in the database indicate that schools sponsor sexual violence awareness activities. Additionally, a majority of the policies (63.2%) allow survivors to report either confidentially or anonymously.
However, overall findings in the report demonstrate that schools’ policies do not comprehensively address campus sexual assault. Many of the policies in CAP lack crucial elements and are difficult for students to access. Over 80% of policies received a composite score of a C grade or below, including almost a quarter that received an F, based on SAFER and V-Day’s criteria for a strong sexual assault policy. The highest-scoring policies received a B+.
While most schools comply with the aspects of federal law measured by SAFER and V-Day's assessment tool, nearly one-third (32.6%) of the policies assessed in the database do not fully comply with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, also known as the Clery Act. Specifically, over one-tenth of the policies assessed in CAP do not explain the importance of preserving evidence after an attack; one-tenth do not state that the school will assist students in notifying the local police department; and over one-tenth do not state that the school will assist survivors with changes in academic and living arrangements.
Furthermore, most of the policies indicate that schools offer risk reduction programs with a lesser focus on primary prevention. Moreover, many policies do not address reporting barriers for survivors: less than one in five (15.9%) policies feature amnesty clauses for underage survivors who were drinking or survivors who were using other drugs at the time of their assault, and less than one-third of the policies (28.6%) state that a survivor’s dress and past sexual history may not be discussed during disciplinary proceedings.
“The findings of the study, while promising, leave much room for improvement,” said Megan McKendry, MPH, SAFER’s Policy and Research Coordinator on the study. “Unfortunately, the policies included in this report prioritize reaction over prevention. However, although the report highlights several policy shortcomings, there still exist many opportunities for positive reform.” Intense public scrutiny, effective social movements, and the federal government’s commitment to ending campus sexual violence may positively influence schools’ policies in the near future.
Based on the findings of the report, SAFER and V-Day recommend the following areas for improving sexual assault policies at U.S. colleges and universities:
- Increase the availability and accessibility of survivor resources, such as free emergency contraception after sexual assault;
- Increase primary prevention efforts and create more opportunities for students to engage meaningfully with primary prevention activities;
- Ensure that sexual assault policies are accessible to students in regard to centralized placement on schools’ websites, readability, and comprehensiveness;
- Adopt amnesty clauses to encourage reporting by survivors who may have been in violation of other school policies at the time of their assault; and
- Create more opportunities for students to participate in policy decisions.
SAFER and V-Day believe that these actions will help schools develop policies that center the needs of students and challenge rape culture on their campuses. It is SAFER and V-Day’s hope that this report will further assist student activists and their allies in their efforts to reform their schools’ policies and end sexual assault at U.S. colleges and universities.
This report only reviews findings from SAFER and V-Day’s analysis of policy submissions from a sample of 299 four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. Nevertheless, SAFER and V-Day encourage readers to use the online database to explore the policies of schools that were not included in this report and invite ongoing participation in CAP by students from all types of post-secondary educational institutions in the U.S. and abroad.
SAFER and V-Day will continue to support student activists through their individual programming. SAFER continues to provide students with nationwide in-person activist trainings, activist mentoring programs, and free access to their Activist Resource Center.
Through V-Day’s college campaign, students produce benefit productions of “The Vagina Monologues” and other artistic works, films and teach-ins to raise awareness and funds for local anti-violence providers include rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters. As part of its 2014 One Billion Rising campaign, V-Day has launched CampusRising, a campaign for college activists to connect the dots between the art and education work of their V-Day activities and the ongoing culture of rape – and accompanying policy issues – that they encounter on their campuses. Students will create and share “This is What Justice Looks Like” videos and stories with V-Day’s global community and stage CampusRising events on campus on February 14, 2014.
SAFER will be sharing key findings from the study on its blog at www.safercampus.org/blog. The full report is also available online here: http://www.safercampus.org/blog/2013/10/safer-announces-findings-of-campus-accountability-report.
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Select Key Findings
|Formal Policy Highlights|
|Clery Act Compliance|
About the Campus Accountability Project
In 2009, Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER) partnered with V-Day to launch Campus Accountability Project (CAP), a national online database that allows students to submit and analyze their schools’ policies. CAP houses information about policies in an online, public and searchable database, which details what colleges and universities are doing to prevent, reduce and respond to sexual violence on campus. SAFER and V-Day developed CAP to dually function as a teaching tool for student activists looking to analyze and reform their schools’ policies and a clearinghouse for information about sexual assault policies at U.S. institutions of higher education. This online assessment tool analyzes schools’ sexual assault policies across five domains, including survivor resources, educational programming, safety initiatives, formal policy highlights, and Clery Act compliance.
About the Study
Student submissions drove sampling and outreach efforts from 2009 to 2012. In order to maximize the database’s accuracy, SAFER board members and volunteers reviewed and checked each policy submission prior to its online publication. SAFER and V-Day also generated a composite score to describe the overall quality of the policies in the database. The findings capture information about both formal and informal sexual assault policies at U.S. colleges and universities. CAP does not capture information about implementation. Examples of formal policy include student codes of conduct, official disciplinary procedures, and annual security reports mandated by the Clery Act. Examples of informal policy include written information about programs or resources located on the websites of school-affiliated health centers, police departments, equity offices, etc.
About SAFER (www.safercampus.org)
Started by Columbia University students in 2000, Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER) is the only organization that fights sexual violence and rape culture by empowering student-led campaigns to reform college sexual assault policies. Run by a volunteer collective, SAFER facilitates student organizing through in-person trainings; individual support through our Activist Mentoring Program; our Campus Sexual Assault Policies Database, in collaboration with V-Day; and our Activist Resource Center, a growing online resource library and network for student organizers. SAFER firmly believes that sexual violence is both influenced by and contributes to multiple forms of oppression, including racism, sexism, and homo/transphobia, and view our anti-sexual violence work through a broader anti-oppression lens.
V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls that raises funds and awareness through benefit productions of Playwright/Founder Eve Ensler’s award-winning play The Vagina Monologues and other artistic works. The V-Day movement has raised over $100 million; educated millions about the issue of violence against women and the efforts to end it; crafted international educational, media, and PSA campaigns; reopened shelters; and funded over 13,000 community-based anti-violence programs and safe houses in Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Kenya, Egypt, and Iraq. V-Day has received numerous acknowledgements and awards and is one of the top-rated organizations on both Charity Navigator and Guidestar. V-Day’s most recent global campaign, ONE BILLION RISING, galvanized one billion women and men on a global day of action towards ending violence against women and girls. Learn more about V-Day’s work at www.vday.org.