Title IX investigations offer hope to sexual assault victims

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With the US Department of Education’s recently released list of colleges undergoing investigation for Title IX violations, the discussion surrounding sexual assault on college campuses has taken on new life.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is intended to protect students in federally-funded programs against sex-based discrimination, but in reality, many schools have a difficult time enforcing these laws. In an effort to combat this, some colleges, like BYU, have full sexual misconduct policies to protect victims against abuse.

On Sept. 28 California Gov. Jerry Brown announced that he signed a bill that defines when "yes means yes." California is the first state in the nation to require colleges to follow an affirmative consent policy when investigating sexual assault reports. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, Pool, File)
On Sept. 28 California Gov. Jerry Brown announced that he signed a bill that defines when “yes means yes.” California is the first state in the nation to require colleges to follow an affirmative consent policy when investigating sexual assault reports. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, Pool, File)

As the subject has become less taboo, more and more survivors of assault are coming forward with their stories and shedding light on the reality of how American colleges treat victims. In many of the cases, victims report a lack of support from their school, victim-blaming and oftentimes, little to no consequence for the attacker. In a report by RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization, only 46 percent of rapes are ever reported, and of those, only 3 percent of accused rapists will ever spend a day in prison.

According to the CDC, one in five women and one in seventy-one men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, and nineteen percent of college-aged women will be sexually assaulted before they graduate. According to Slate.com, on average, a rapists assaults up to six victims before being reported, and six out of seven rapes are committed by someone the victim knows.

Colleges have tried to defend themselves from prosecution by citing the number of falsely-accused rapists, but according to the National Center for Prosecution of Violence Against Women, only 2 to 8 percent of reported rapes are later found false.

With the new investigation into how colleges are handling rape cases and victims taking matters into their own hands to make sure their attackers are held accountable, survivors of sexual assault can have hope that future victims will receive more support than they did.