How Colleges Should Respond to Sexual Assault Reports

These Title IX best practices can help administrators create sexual assault response policies.
Published: May 25, 2017

College officials have to familiarize themselves with many requirements under Title IX, some of which are more straightforward than others.

But even if school officials feel confident that they’re safe from OCR fines, they should always be looking for ways to further improve sexual assault and misconduct response procedures.

This week Campus Safety attended the annual Conference on Crimes Against Women in Dallas. In one session, Bronwyn Blake and Amanda Elkanick of the Texas Advocacy Project, a non-profit that provides advice and support for victims in the state of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, laid out some best practices for administrators responding to sexual assault reports.

Below is a brief list of policy options school officials should consider both after a complaint has been brought and after an accused student has been found responsible.

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Some of these options aren’t explicitly required under Title IX, but they can go a long way toward improving the safety of your campus environment.

After a Sexual Misconduct Report Has Been Filed

Opening up a Title IX investigation or some sort of due process is required after a sexual assault report, but equally important are the interim measures administrators put in place while conducting that investigation.

Here are some options schools should consider:

  • Issue a mutual no contact order between the accused and the accuser
  • Change class schedules
  • Change the locks at the sexual assault accuser’s housing facility
  • Move the sexual assault accuser or accused out of their housing complex
  • Block the sexual assault accuser’s address or other information from being published in campus directories

RELATED: 3 Traits of a Successful Clery Compliance Coordinator

If the Student Accused of Sexual Assault is Found Responsible

If a Title IX investigation ends with the accused student being found responsible of sexual misconduct, schools have a variety of options depending on the severity of the violation.

Below are some paths officials can take.

  • Issue a permanent no contact order, preferably until both parties have graduated
  • Rearrange class schedules and/or dining accommodations to limit contact between the violator and the victim
  • Remove the violator from campus housing or extracurricular activities, particularly if it makes them less likely to come into contact with the victim
  • Mandate completion of community service or a course related to the misconduct violation
  • Suspension or expulsion

It’s important to note that even if an accused student is found not responsible, a school can still take steps to prevent retaliation or a hostile environment for the involved students.

Finally, keep in mind that these options are designed to mitigate the effects of traumatic events and provide the learning environment that everyone deserves on college campuses.

Read Next: Report: College Sexual Assault Policies Unfair to Accused Students

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Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series