Underreporting of Campus Assault Cases
The Michigan Messenger, TWI’s sister site, has a troubling story today about accusations of sexual assault leveled at two Michigan State University basketball players:
Documents obtained by Michigan Messenger show two high-profile Michigan State University basketball players have been accused of committing sexual assault on campus in August. Despite the allegations, prosecutors have declined to take up the case, and the victim disputes the reasons offered for not bringing charges.
Unfortunately, the situation that the story documents is not a unique one. Even though federal law makes reporting campus crime mandatory, sexual assault is under-reported, and no one knows quite how widespread a problem it is. Last year, the Center for Public Integrity reported:
Limitations and loopholes in the federal mandatory campus crime reporting law, known as the Clery Act, are causing systematic problems in accurately documenting the total numbers of campus-related sexual assaults. [...] Available data suggest that, on many campuses, far more sexual offenses are occurring than are reflected in the official Clery numbers.
The U.S. Department of Education also has a responsibility to investigate cases in which victims of sexual assault on campus allege that their school mishandled their case. But, the Center reported, the department’s Office of Civil Rights pursues few cases and rarely levies punishments on schools.