Sexual violence is a common occurrence on college campuses.
- According to a National Institute of Justice report from December 2005, on a campus of 10,000 students, as many as 350 women may be victims of sexual assault each year.
- More than 80% of the women who reported a rape were under 25 years old at the time of their assault; nearly 25% of the victims of reported rapes are between 18 and 24 years old.
- Over the course of a college career (which now lasts five years on average), the percentage of completed or attempted rape victimization among women in higher educational institutions might climb to between 20% and 25%.
- The Justice Department estimates that fewer than 5% of completed and attempted rapes of college women were reported to law enforcement officials. This is far below the rate of the general population, where about 40% of all sexual attacks are reported to police.
- Stalking is another form of victimization common to college women. By one estimate, 13% of college women are the victim of a stalking incident at least once during their college years. A Justice Department report suggests that just 17% of college women who were stalked reported it to police.
The Federal Clery Act
The Federal Clery Act, also known as the "Student Right-to-Know and Campus Security Act," requires all colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid programs to publicly disclose statistics about on-campus crime. Congress also annually appropriates funds for the Violence Against Women Campus Program, which enables the Office on Violence Against Women to extend grants to schools to combat on-campus violence against women.
These are positive steps, but more work remains to be done.
How You Can Help
- Get involved in RAINN Day and help organize activities on college campuses to raise awareness of on-campus sexual violence.
- Call on school administrators to adopt practices that effectively reduce the risk of on-campus victimization and increase sexual assault reporting. The NIJ report names eight schools that have already adopted these "promising practices." If you are enrolled at an institution of higher education, consider circulating a petition that calls for administrators to implement them at your school. Feel free to follow RAINN's model petition.
- Call on your Representative and Senators to pass legislation that encourages schools to prevent and respond to on-campus crime more effectively. RAINN supports efforts to transfer Clery Act implementation to the Department of Justice. RAINN supports imposing liability on institutions of higher education that fail to meet basic safety standards. RAINN also supports the expansion of rape prevention programs.
- Ask your Representative and Senators to support federal funding for the National Stalker Database and Domestic Violence Reduction Program. The latest version of the Violence Against Women Act authorizes this program at $3 million in each of fiscal years 2007 through 2011. Under this program, the Attorney General may issue grants to states and local governments to improve data entry into local, state, and national crime information databases for cases of stalking and domestic violence.
Handbook for Campus Crime Reporting (PDF, 3.9MB), U.S. Department of Education
Campus Security information, U.S. Department of Education
Clery Act information, SecurityOnCampus.com
Statistics Report Index, Office of Postsecondary Education, U.S. Department of Education
Campus Sexual Assault: How America's Institutions Of Higher Education
Respond , U.S. Department of Justice, August 2002