April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and at many college campuses nationwide, students will be holding Take Back the Night rallies and other related projects geared towards ending sexual violence.
Title IX was enacted in 1972 and states:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
It laid the foundation for equal opportunity for men and women in education: both in classrooms and in athletics. It prohibits sex discrimination in any educational programming, activity or event that receives federal funding. Such examples of sex discrimination include sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sexual violence as a whole.
Students who have experienced sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sexual violence on their campuses and do not receive adequate assistance, support, and resources from their schools are disadvantaged compared to other students because they have been traumatized and often times re-traumatized after being ignored by their school administrators.
It may be difficult for student survivors of sexual violence to remain in or return to their schools. Even if they do stay in school they may still have a hard time concentrating, keeping on top of their schoolwork, being involved in extracurriculars and social activities, etc. They may be re-triggered by certain events, seeing certain faces or going to certain places.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Women’s Rights Project has teamed up with Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER) to combat sexual violence in educational institutions based on Title IX. They’ve compiled a fact sheet on Title IX and Sexual Assault: Know Your Rights and Your College’s Responsibilities.
From this fact sheet:
A college or university that receives federal funds may be held legally responsible when it knows about and ignores sexual harassment or assault in its programs or activities. The school can be held responsible in court whether the harassment is committed by a faculty member, staff, or a student. In some cases, the school must pay the victim money damages.
That means that survivors of sexual assault can sue their colleges or universities in courts for ignoring and/or failing to act on known cases of sexual assault. Therefore it would make most sense for schools (cough cough, Tufts) to hold perpetrators accountable for committing sexual assault (just a friendly reminder that rape is a felony) and to respond appropriately in compliance with Title IX.
Come on schools (yes, you Tufts!) and stop lagging behind. Catch up with the law.