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Violence Against Women on the Internet

Campus Sexual Assault Policies
(opens: 4.16.02)
(opens: 4.23.02)
Sex Trafficking
(opens: 4.30.02)
The Internet as a Site of Resistance
(opens: 5.7.02)
(opens: 5.14.02)
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College Administration Problems

Critics of universities' sexual assault policies argue that problems handling rape in the criminal justice system are amplified in the campus disciplinary context. "Women are well aware of the methods used to keep them silent about rape: the justice system's reluctance to prosecute rapists, even when the evidence is overwhelming; the disbelief that survivors often face; and the insensitive and humiliating treatment women experience when they come forward. All of these factors are compounded when rapes occur on college campuses because campus administrators and college police are determined to protect the image of their school-a safe campus image that will attract new students and more money. And that means administrators often discourage women from reporting rapes to local law enforcement, and either covertly handle as internal matters what should be criminal investigations or overtly punish women who speak out." - Cindy Hanford, NOW and Violence Against Women, "Campus Rape Ignored . . . . . Even When There's a Videotape" at

Many believe that the current practice of allowing college disciplinary boards to adjudicate rape cases is wrong, arguing that all rape cases, campus and otherwise, deserve attention from the criminal justice system. As NOW's Executive Vice President Kim Gandy, a former prosecutor, argues, "These boards do not have the training or the authority to be judges, and even if they should hold a student responsible, expulsion or suspension from college is hardly an appropriate punishment for the crime of rape." See: Cindy Hanford, NOW and Violence Against Women, "Campus Rape Ignored . . . . . Even When There's a Videotape" at For more information on victims' problems with campus adjudication of sexual assault, see, Eileen Wagner, the lawyer for Christy Brzonkala, discusses the problems with college administrative boards adjudicating rape cases in "The Secret On-Campus Adjudication of Sexual Assault" at .

As the editors of the Harvard University Perspective wrote and published with the two interviews you read above: "A symptom of the problem of college administrative boards handling or mishandling rape investigations is that it is often the rape victim who drops out of school. Another rape survivor at Harvard was actually encouraged to withdraw for the semester after the rape, and had the feeling that people did not want to deal with the problem, so did not want her around as a reminder. She did not drop out, took her case to court after the Ad Board hearing, and won in court. The Ad Board, to whom the rapist admitted the rape, voted to require him to withdraw, which meant that he could later come back and reapply-an outcome unacceptable to the survivor. One of the reasons the Board gave for not expelling him (what the survivor wanted) was that there was no precedent for the expulsion of a rapist. "There was no one previously in Harvard's history who had been expelled for rape." The second reason was that it wasn't a "violent" rape-he didn't hold a gun to her head and she didn't have any bruises; and the third reason was that he was a self-admitted rapist, so he was 'well on the way to recovery.' The survivor was understandably furious at this result, and thus initiated court proceedings." (See

On the other side of the spectrum, many civil libertarians argue against university discipline procedures on the grounds that they violate the accused's rights to a fair trial with due process under the law. These opponents of campus disciplinary hearings particularly contest sexual assault and sexual harassment policies which allow for closed and confidential proceedings and which prohibit the accused from hearing the victim's or other witness' testimonies. The Foundation for Individual Rights, founded by prominent lawyer Harvey Silverglate, is the leading organization crusading against what it calls the "kangaroo courts" of college campuses. For FIRE's critique of university disciplinary procedures, see; to learn more about FIRE's analysis of due process in disciplinary procedures, see

Campus Security Act:

Harvard: ( Rape includes any act of sexual intercourse that takes place against a person's will or that is accompanied by physical coercion or the threat of bodily injury. Unwillingness may be expressed verbally or physically. Rape may also include intercourse with a person who is incapable of expressing unwillingness or is prevented from resisting, as a result of conditions including, but not limited to, those caused by the intake of alcohol or drugs. Rape includes not only unwilling or forced vaginal intercourse, but also the sexual penetration of any bodily orifice with a body part or other object.

· Sexual assault includes any unwanted touching or fondling of a sexual nature that is accompanied by physical force or threat of bodily injury.

· Sexual misconduct may also include other serious or persistent unwanted sexual contact or conduct, such as harassment, threats, intimidations, or unwanted touching or fondling.

Being intoxicated does not diminish a student's responsibility in perpetrating rape, sexual assault, or other sexual misconduct.

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