HigherEducation Policy Issue
Thecampus sexual assault prevention, reporting and adjudication are ahigher education policy issue developed in 2014. The aim of thispolicy is to prevent sexual assault, take appropriate actions onreported cases of sexual assault and guarantee compliance with thefederal law. Sexual violence has become a growing concern in highereducation environments affecting students. It involves psychologicalor physical violence conducted through erotic means such as sexualharassment, rape, assault and abuse. Sexual assault is oftentolerated in the larger society and on campuses and this has raised alot of concern. Though sexual assault is experienced by both genders,it is common among women while men are the most perpetuators. Sexualassault has adverse consequences on victims for example, it canaffect their mental and physical well-being hamper their academicachievement as well as their ability to access education. The rootcauses of sexual assault in campuses include the identities andmarginalization of women and other groups of people within thebroader society that results in high risks of victimization.Additionally, alcohol and drug abuse have been identified as majorcontributors to campus sexual assault. In most instances,perpetuators and victims of sexual assault always claim to have beendrunk when the incident happened. Most victims fail to report theirexperiences of sexual abuse to relevant authorities. Studies indicatethat only one out of ten cases of sexual violence is reported to thepolice. Consequently, establishment of an efficient campus sexualassault policy would promote creation of an environment in highereducation systems where everybody has awareness that sexual assaultis not tolerated, victims are able to get the services they requireand appropriate action is taken against perpetuators (AmericanAssociation of University Professors, 2013).
Critiqueof Policy Options
Theexisting approach to campus sexual assault is failing because they donot provide adequate measures to address the effects of sexualassault on victims and to deter perpetrators. These approaches do nothave essential practices that promote reporting, investigation andadjudication of sexual assault cases.They lack online or confidential reporting alternatives and thusdiscourage student victims from reporting cases to the police.Similarly, they do not offer intervening measures to defend andsupport the victims. These approaches as well provide a requirementthat all complaints must take part in the adjudication process andthis discourages students to report sexual assault incidents. As aresult, the present policies need to be reviewed to incorporatereporting, investigation and adjudication procedures and practice tocurb campus sexual assault (AmericanAssociation of University Professors, 2013).
Themodern approaches are failing because most higher educationinstitutions lack comprehensive policies to address this problem.Most policies that have been reviewed recently are not explicit tosexual violence and they do not provide a full meaning of sexualabuse. Therefore, all-inclusive policies need to be developed andshould be specific to sexual assault in order to be effectual.Additionally,the contemporary approaches to sexual assault do not have cleardetails of the rights of the complainant neither does it state thatindividuals working on follow up of sexual assault must be trained toenhance efficiency. It is evident that often, the rights of thecomplainant are not articulated. Instead, the authorities focus moreon the rights of respondents to a complaint of sexual abuse. Thus,the failure to provide parallel rights to both the defendant and thevictim, compromises with the ability of the students to make informedchoices of reporting sexual abuse. This has contributed to reductionrates of reporting sexual assault cases and also affects the healingprocess of the victim. It is important to enact campus sexual assaultpolicies that ensure provision of equal rights to both the defendantand the victim (Krishovey, Hayes, Klein, Nemeth & Adkins, 2013).
Themodern approaches lack trained personnel to respond to cases ofsexual assault in campuses. Examples of the required personnel torespond and advocate for campus sexual assault incidences includesexual assaults advocates, health care providers and law enforcementfound both on-campus and off-campus. These individuals play asignificant role in assisting victims to file reports, establishsafety plans for victims and create access services andaccommodations that would help them in their healing process. Forthat reason, it is important for higher education institutions toensure they have trained personnel to effectively address campussexual assault (AmericanAssociation of University Professors, 2013).
Theexisting approaches to campus sexual abuses are not properlyimplemented thus fail to achieve its goal of ending sexual violence.They lack effective monitoring and evaluating mechanisms to ensureimplementation of the established practices and policies. Theseapproaches tend to focus more on the process of addressing sexcualabuse instead of concentrating on their impacts on students. So, itis important for higher education institutions to create effectivemonitoring and evolution programs to ensure the sexual assaultpolicies and practices are fully implemented in order to effectivelyaddress the problem (Krishovey,Hayes, Klein, Nemeth & Adkins, 2013).
Lackof a standardized campus sexual abuse policy has contributed tofailure of the contemporary approaches to violence. The AmericanStates have standards for implementation of campus sexual assault andthus have created gaps due to the different policies established inhigher education institutions. This gap has compromised the safety ofstudents from sexual assault as well as their willingness to makereports to authorities.Also, it is observed that policies and procedures established invarious higher education institutions in the United States fail toapply to sexual assault incidences because of lack of standardpolicies. This has resulted in intersections and overlap that hasimpacted negatively on the consistency and clarity of those policiesin addressing campus sexual assault. Thus, it is important for highereducation institution in various states in America to formulate andimplement standard policies to enhance consistency in addressingsexual assault in these institutions (Edwards,Moynihan, Rodenhizer-Stämpfli, Demers & Banyard, 2015).
Thecampus sexual assault prevention, reporting and adjudication policyconsist of proposed alternatives to the exiting practices that areeffective in addressing incidences of sexual violence. The aims ofproviding these options are to eradicate incidences of sexual assaultin higher education institutions and its adverse consequences. One ofthe options provided is to encourage close coordination betweeninstitutions and trained law-enforcement officials. Similarly, itadvocates for coordination of efforts among administrators, students,staff members and faculty members. It states that all members of thecampus community should share responsibility of handling sexualassault within their institutions and also take part in thedevelopment process of the campus sexual assault policy (Edwards,Moynihan, Rodenhizer-Stämpfli, Demers & Banyard, 2015).
Furthermore,the policy suggests that the perpetuators of campus sexual assaultshould be convicted and punished by the criminal justice systems.Most reports on sexual violence in higher education institutions aretackled administratively and perpetrators are generally punishedthrough suspension or expulsion. The administration is usuallyreluctant to refer reported cases to the criminal justice and thishampers effectiveness of addressing campus sexual assault. In mostinstances, the school administration does not consider sexual assaultas a crime, thus encourages the perpetrator to continue with theactions of sexually harassing other students. A criminal justicesystem would be able to determine whether the sexual violence act wasa crime and imposes necessary punishment against the perpetrator(DeMatteo,Galloway, Arnold & Patel, 2015).
Thepolicy as well requires higher education institutions to encouragestudents to report cases of sexual abuse and monitor patterns ofsexual misconduct among students. Additionally, the policy suggeststhat other behaviors which create an environment that supports sexualviolence should be tracked. Moreover, the policy advocates for highereducation institutions to take prompt action to eradicate sexualabuse, stop its recurrence and tackle its impacts. This can beachieved through developing clear, readable and accurate policies andprocedures that should be made accessible to people within the campuscommunity (DeMatteo,Galloway, Arnold, & Patel, 2015).
Consequently,the policy also provides an option of defining sexual assault. Itbroadly defines sexual violence to include sexual assault, stalkingand sexual harassment. The definition and punishment of sexualassault differ in institutions, states and jurisdiction. Thedefinition helps to eliminate confusion among higher educationinstitutions in various states. It creates differences andinconsistencies in reporting, holding perpetuators’ accountable,investigation and record keeping. It would allow higher educationinstitutions to develop effective disciplinary process against thosewho violate the sexual misconduct policy (DeMatteo,Galloway, Arnold, & Patel, 2015).
Myposition on the campus sexual assault prevention, reporting andadjudication policy is that it is effective in addressing sexualviolence. It is comprehensive, clearly defines sexual violence,provides alternatives to existing approaches to sexual violence andit is a standard policy that applies across all higher educationinstitutions in the United States.
Theexisting policy approach needs to be changed by implementing definitepractical measures that are provided below. Many of these policiesare not exclusive to campus sexual assault. Most of those policiescategorize sexual assault behaviors under misconduct, discriminationand harassment policies thus affecting their effectiveness. Therfore,it is crucial that higher education institutions to handle sexualassault separate from other types of misconduct. This is because,sexual violence consists of gendered power dynamics and also thevictims of sexual abuse experiences unique challenges. Thus, creationof a specific policy to address sexual violence assault wouldcontribute significantly towards preventing encourage reporting andadjudication of sexual abuse (Richards,2016).
Therecent policy approach should include a clear definition of“consent”, “incapacity” and “force.” Additionally, itshould cover a wide range of behaviors that are sexually violent suchas sharing out sexual videos or images without consent. Moreover, thepolicies should deal with sexual assaults that occur off campus,those conducted against campus visitors as well as those groups incampuses that engage in activities that encourage sexual abuse. Thepolicies should also be designed to incorporate the students’voices against sexual assault (Richards,2016).
Itis also recommended that the modern policy approach should recognizethe importance of providing equal rights to both the victim anddefendant of sexual assault. Through this, students will beencouraged to report sexual assault incidences. Similarly, the policyshould contain details on the responses of the higher educationinstitutions to the victims of sexual violence. This would enhanceconsistency in provision of services, treatment, and referrals(Richards,2016).
Furthermore,the current policy approach should develop mechanisms for raisingawareness. For instance, special orientation training can beestablished to facilitate familiarity with the policies and practicesof sexual assault. Having adequate understanding and accessibility ofthe sexual violence policies by members of the campus community wouldpromote their application. The policies should be clear and bedistributed in languages that meet the needs of the students(Bennett,2015).
Itis also recommended for present policy approach to develop robustprocess for adjudicating, investigating and reporting of sexualassault cases. The policy should provide specific information on theactions that are taken when a report is made, the available recoursefor the victims to report the matter to law enforcement and those forpursuing legal options besides the campus system. Moreover, thepolicy should present processes that would enhance successfulcoordination of services and law enforcement between those workingon- and off-campus (Bennett,2015).
Inaddition, the policy should develop effective mechanisms formonitoring and evaluation to ensure policy implementation. Effectiveimplementation would contribute significantly towards reducing andpreventing cases of campus sexual abuse and build safety. Similarly,it would ensure that the sexual protocols focus more on addressingthe impacts of sexual assault on students. Policy implementation isessential because it would facilitate identification of groups ofpeople within the campus community that are exposed to high risk ofsexual exploitations and abuse. Examples of students who are at highrisks of sexual violence include international students, Aboriginalstudents, those with disabilities and the transgender (Bennett,2015).
Therecommended policy on the campus sexual assault problem has takeninto account various ethical considerations. For instance, the policyrecognizes that the freedom to teach and study is not distinct fromsafe learning environment. The Joint Statement on Rights and Freedomspoints out that the freedom of students to learn depends on theproper conditions and opportunities provided in classrooms, in theinstitutions and within the broader community (Bennett,2015).
Inaddition, the recommended policy has incorporated the elements of theexisting policies in higher education institutions that governprofessional ethics of addressing campus sexual violence. Integrationof such policies ensures that the professional ethics within campusinstitutions are not violated, but rather align with them to enhanceeffectiveness in addressing campus sexual assault problem. Theelements of professional ethics include, the campus community havethe duty to develop and adopt suitable policies and procedures thataddress sexual assault such as establishing prevention and educationprograms. Similarly, the professional ethics elements includeconducting investigation on claims of sexual violence and takeimmediate corrective action to stop sexual abuse and prevent itsrepetition. Moreover, the elements of professional ethics requirerelevant authorities within the institution to take suitabledisciplinary actions against perpetrators including evocations ofprivileges within the institutions, dismissal, termination ofcontract or employment, expulsion and suspension among others(Bennett,2015).
Thepolicy as well has outlined measures that promote maintenance ofconfidentiality of information. It is important for relevantauthorities, individuals and media to handle reported cases of campussexual assault with sensitivity in order to maintain confidentialityof the victim. This is because, the victims of sexual assault alwaysexperience high level of distress and trauma and failure to maintainconfidentiality of information can have long-term impacts on thevictim and the campus community in general. Consequently, the policyhas addressed the ethical considerations of maintainingconfidentiality of information to protect the affected individuals(Bennett,2015).
Theanticipated arguments against my position on the campus sexualassault prevention,reporting and adjudication policy include: it is argued that althoughthis policy addresses sexual assault in higher education institution,it does not cover all areas regarding sexual violence.Therecommended policy contains comprehensive details covering all areasof campus sexual assault such as its major causes, its effects, andremedies. Furthermore, itoutlines measures of how to create effective mechanisms for tacklingcampus sexual assault. Moreover, the policy provides explicitreporting and service options for students to encourage reporting andthus reduce incidences of sexual violence within and outside campus.The policy is also standard because it has been designed to apply toall higher education institutions in different states in America. Theprovisions, guidelines and recommendations of the policy areconsistent and similar in all higher education institutions in thedifferent states in the U.S (Richards,2016).
Additionally,it is also argued that the policy provides a broad definition ofsexual assault and this causes more confusion of identifying sexualassault. The recommended policy has outlined a clear meaning andprovides proper description of sexual assault and other termsassociated with it. Although the sexual assault has been broadlydefined, it only includes the relevant information that is importantin enhancing widespread understanding. The definition is alsospecific to campus sexual assault thus efficient. Examples of theseterms include sexual harassment, stalking, sexual exploitation,sexual violence, force and consent (Richards,2016).
Thecampus sexual assault prevention, reporting and adjudication arepolicy issue in higher education institutions in the United States.The policy was developed to prevent sexual assault, provideappropriate actions for reporting sexual assault cases and ensurecompliance with the federal law. Sexual assault affects mental andphysical wellbeing of individuals. The existing approaches havefailed to adequately address campus sexual assault because they lackessential practices that promote reporting, investigation andadjudication of sexual assault cases.They lack confidential reporting options and discourage studentvictims from reporting cases to the police. Also, they fail to offerintervening measures to defend and support the victims of sexualassault. In addition, most of the policies are not specific to campussexual violence and lack clear details of the rights of complaints.Various recommendations have been provided to improve the existingpolicy approach towards addressing campus sexual assault. The presentpolicy should be designed exclusively to address sexual assault bytreating it as distinct. It is also recommended that the recentpolicy approach can be improved by incorporating a clear definitionof “consent”, “incapacity” and “force” and cover a widerange of behaviors that are sexually violent such as sharing outsexual videos or images without consent. Hence, the campus sexualassault policy would be valuable in addressing sexual violence inhigher education institutions.
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