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Sexual Assault at College

Last year, Reed College and other colleges and universities were criticized for what some people called a “blame-the-victim” response to sexual assault. According to Reed’s Dean of Students, Mike Brody, the school has been working to improve how they respond to reports of sexual assault, but they’re still facing problems. A student member of their Judicial Board recently stepped down in protest of how they handle sexual assault claims.

Complaints of sexual assault on many college campuses are dealt with differently than in much of the “real world.” Instead of automatically referring all reported cases to police, many colleges conduct their own investigations, judgment, and disciplinary action.

“Matthew”, a former student at The Evergreen State College, was accused of rape while he was a junior. During a mediation process sponsored by the college, Matthew claims that his accuser recanted her story and said that instead of being raped, she had simply felt uncomfortable after they kissed on a date.

We’ll explore how colleges respond to claims of sexual assault. And why some colleges call this a “survivor-focused approach.”

If you went to college, how did your college deal with sexual assault and rape? Were you a victim, or an accused perpetrator, while at college? What happened? How did you feel about the process? What can colleges learn from the “real world” and visa versa?

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OPB | April 13, 2011