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Student-on-student sexual assault challenges colleges to formulate a response. Is the school acting in loco parentis? Is it involved whether or not the event occurs on campus? Does the offense fall under the code of conduct or is it a matter for the police?
Along with all of the above questions, student-on-student sexual assault--and the university's response to it--is coming to be viewed as a civil rights issue. Title IX prohibits unwelcome sexual contact so pervasive and offensive as to take away the victim's rights. This view makes sexual assault an extreme form of sexual harassment.
National Education for Higher Education Risk Management (NCHERM) provides legal consulting services related to campus health and safety. Its goal is to change how colleges and universities address sexual misconduct by working from within, helping schools to adopt sound practices to prevent lawsuits before they happen.
Managing partner Brett Sokolow and partners Saundra Schuster and Scott Lewis, all attorneys, addressed student affairs administrators at the NASPA annual conference in Chicago in March.
Framing sexual assault through a civil right lens means the university as well as the student is accountable, if the assault could have been foreseen or prevented or if the response does not treat both parties fairly. Colleges can't foresee or prevent any assault, but they're liable under Title IX if they don't take appropriate action later to:
* End the discriminatory conduct.
* Act reasonably to stop it from happening again.
* Restore the victim to her wholeness before the assault. Over the past decade a series of court cases has strengthened the role of …