Sexual Misconduct on Campus: Big Report, Little Information

Glenn Ricketts

Yesterday the Chronicle of Higher Education posted this report on campus sexual assault statistics as front page news.  The report, CHE informed its readers, “would provide the most comprehensive resource to compile relevant information” about ongoing federal investigations of Title IX complaints against colleges and universities accused of negligence or mishandling sexual assault cases.   Higher education institutions, of course, have been under heavy federal pressure to respond to the allegedly widespread incidence of sexual assaults (“rape culture” as it’s often designated) on their campuses, with increasingly close scrutiny from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the US Department of Education.   A compendium of relevant documents, judicial precedents, statutes, and federal agencies is available here.

It’s hard to see what the point of the CHE "report" is, because it doesn't really tell us anything.  It is indeed massive, and you can learn from it that 243 complaints involving allegations of sexual misconduct are being processed by the federal government, along with the names of the schools under investigation.  You can also learn that, to date, some 19% of reported cases have been resolved, requiring an average of one year and two months for resolution. 

And that’s it.  Nothing else, no details or background information, just the fact that “complaints” have been registered and some of them have been resolved.  If you’d like to know what kind of complaints – the real thing or another Columbia mattress girl – or whether the case was “resolved” by kangaroo court procedures against the accused – you won’t find out here. 

For us, of course, what’s missing is what really matters. How many genuine incidents of sexual assault occur on American college campuses?  How is “sexual misconduct” defined?  Are campus procedures in sexual misconduct cases still weighted so heavily against the accused, as we’ve often complained?  If you're looking for that kind of information, there's none to be had here.

Image:Pixabay, Public Domain

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