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Responding To Sexual Assaults On Campus

The annual Clothesline Project at Mississippi State University draws attention to sexual assault on campus. (AP/MSU/Megan Bean)

The annual Clothesline Project at Mississippi State University draws attention to sexual assault on campus. (AP/MSU/Megan Bean)

How colleges respond to allegations of sexual assault is a big issue for many schools, especially in the Boston area.

The most recent cases involve two women at Emerson College who claim they were sexually assaulted — one of them on the Emerson campus, another at an MIT frat party. The students said Emerson College administrators took weeks to investigate their claims, and in one of the cases, told the alleged victim that she “shouldn’t be making a big deal about it.”

The women have filed a complaint with the federal Department of Education, claiming the school mishandled their cases. Emerson College administrators have pledged to improve their response to allegations of sexual assault on campus.

But this is hardly an isolated case: just last year, an Amherst College student wrote an op-ed in her student newspaper about being raped and claimed college administrators tried to dissuade her from reporting it.

According to research funded by the Department of Justice, one out of five college women have been or will be sexually assaulted on campuses. All colleges and universities that receive federal money are required to have clear policies to respond to sexual assault allegations, but many victim advocates say the schools fall short.


Jillian Doherty, junior at Emerson College and one of the complainants

Tyler Kingkade, associate editor at the Huffington Post. He was the first to report the Emerson College story and has done a lot of reporting on sexual assaults on college campuses.

Daniel Carter, director 32 National Campus Safety Initiative, which is part of the non-profit VTV Family Outreach Foundation.


NPR Despite federal laws created to protect students, colleges and universities have failed to protect women from this epidemic of sexual assault.

Center for Public Integrity Students found “responsible” for sexual assaults on campus often face little or no punishment from school judicial systems, while their victims’ lives are frequently turned upside down.

National Sexual Violence Resource Center Resources and information about sexual assaults on college campus.

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  • Unbelievable

    It’s interesting, if not revealing, that Emerson College — which supposedly specializes a bit in communications and media — is unable to comment on RadioBoston on this most horrible (alleged) violation against their very own students.

    Moreover, if TWO of them dared to come forward to report their (alleged) rapes, how many other Emerson females have or will suffer the same fate?

    Shame on Emerson. Head-in-the-sand crisis communications.

  • Stacy Bogart Bohrer

    This is SICK. I’m so happy that the survivor was brave, despite their school’s inability to find the attacker guilty. I am so sick of this story, but somehow listened to the whole thing. Daniel, you remain my hero all these years later.

    • Radioedit


      They found him not guilty which means that they did her wrong? A hearing isn’t supposed to have a pre-determined outcome. The fact that an alleged perpetrator was found not guilty does not, in and of itself, prove that the school did anything wrong.

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